Cougars advance to NCAA Finals for the first time in 20 years

BYU's Rachel Newren finished third at the NCAA West Regional

LAS CRUCES, N. M. (May 7, 2005) --The 20-year NCAA finals drought is over for BYU's women's golf team. The Cougars advanced to the NCAA Championship round for the first time since 1985 after placing sixth at the 2005 NCAA West Regional on Saturday.

"This is just awesome," BYU head coach Sue Nyhus said. "We knew we could do it. We believed we're capable of being one of the best golf teams in the country and we showed it."

BYU has never advanced past the NCAA Regional since that format was instituted in 1993. The Cougars advance from arguably the toughest of the three regionals, beating out four teams ranked in the nation's top 25 and 2005 Mountain West Champion UNLV. BYU was the only team from the MWC to advance to the finals, which will be held at Sunriver, Ore. where the Mountain West Golf Championships have been held the past four years. The top eight finishers from the three regionals advance to the NCAA Championship held on May 17-20.

Behind the leadership of its top golfer, Rachel Newren, BYU played some its best golf of the season. Newren finished the tournament with a third-round one-under-par to earn a third place finish, BYU's top finish ever at an NCAA Regional. Newren has finished in the top three in her last three tournaments including a second-place finish at the MWC Championship and a first-place finish at the BYU Dixie Classic. She finished the tournament at two-over-par (69-78-71--218) and just one stroke away from second place.

Margaret Wright also carried the Cougars on the all-important final day. Wright, a senior from Scottsdale, Ariz., continued her mature, steady play by scoring a three-over-par on Saturday and finishing the tournament tied for 14th.

"Rachel and Margaret really came through big for us," Nyhus said. "They really took it upon themselves to help us advance."

BYU was also fortunate to get a good score from true freshman Juli Wightman. Wightman, who had struggled in her first two rounds, came through with a solid five-over on the final day to give BYU an important third score.

Perhaps the biggest hole of the day was No. 18 where Rachel and Natalie Newren both birdied to push BYU into sixth place. Natalie Newren's birdie was important because she was the fourth counting score. She finished the tournament tied for 45th place after going eight-over in the third round.

Third ranked UCLA and No. 12 Tennessee tied for the team championship while Sophie Sheridan of California finished four-under to claim medalist honors. Second-ranked Georgia, No. 17 Arizona, No. 9 New Mexico, and No. 25 Washington State all failed to advance to the NCAA Championship.

"We're very satisfied with our accomplishment, and we're excited to be going back to Sunriver," Nyhus said.

BYU last played in the NCAA Championship in 1985 before the regional format was instituted. That year the Cougars finished the tournament in 14th place. The NCAA Championships were held that year in Las Cruces and played on the same New Mexico State University golf course.

TEAM LEADER BOARD

T1. UCLA 304-299-286--889 +25

T1. Tennessee 291-310-288--889 +25

3. California 296-307-288--891 +27

4. USC 293-302-297--892 +28

5. Oklahoma State 304-301-293--898 +34

6. Brigham Young 298-305-303--906 +42

6. UC Irvine 308-300-298--906 +42

8. Stanford 306-301-301--908 +44

9. Georgia 296-306-309--911 +47

10. Oregon 301-304-308--913 +49

11. Washington State 302-305-310--917 +53

11. UNLV 301-312-304--917 +53

13. Arizona 303-314-305--922 +58

14. Northwestern 311-306-306--923 +59

15. Colorado State 308-305-312--925 +61

19 Teams competing and only 8 teams advance

BYU INDIVIDUAL SCORES

T3. Rachel Newren 69-78-71--218 +2

T14. Margaret Wright 74-75-75--224 +8

T44. Natalie Newren 77-73-80--230 +14

T65. Juli Wightman 78-79-77--234 +18

T100. Alexis Edwards 83-79-84--246 +30

Tags: Results