Sophomore Juli Wightman shot a 1-under-par 72 to boost the Cougars to a seventh-place finish against tough competition at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ALBUQUERQUE -- The BYU women's golf team moved up two more spots Wednesday at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational to finish tied for seventh place in a field that featured some of the country's top teams.
The Cougars ended the three-day tournament at Albuquerque's UNM Championship Golf Course (par 73, 6,069 yards) with their tournament-low of 292, cutting 11 strokes from Tuesday's total. Three BYU golfers scored at or under par on the final day, moving the Cougars to a tie with 12th-ranked California. Five of the six teams finishing above BYU entered the tournament ranked in Golfweek's preseason Top 25 poll, and a total of seven ranked teams participated, including host New Mexico.
"The level of competition was just really, really high," BYU head coach Sue Nyhus said. "The depth of teams and tightness of the scores is telling that all teams have improved. The whole field was a lot stronger than it has been in the past."
No. 3 Pepperdine began the day in a tie for first with Texas A&M, but they were able to outdistance the Aggies to win the tournament by two strokes. Eileen Vargas of Pepperdine won the individual title by finishing at 8-under-par 211.
Nyhus said she was impressed by the overall good team effort, noting that the Cougars finished ahead of teams like Baylor and San Diego State who have already won tournaments this season.
"We're making statements against some of the top teams, and we're establishing that we really are a good team," Nyhus said.
For the Cougars, junior Alexis Edwards followed up her career-low round of 3-under-par 70 with a 76 (+3), earning her second top-20 finish of the season and a new career-best for a three-round tournament (+2, 221). Her previous two best tournaments also came at the Dick McGuire Invitational her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Junior Rachel Newren fired the best round of the day for BYU, knocking six strokes off her second-round score to end up at 2-under 71. She bounced back from a double bogey on her second hole to knock in five birdies on the day. Sophomore Juli Wightman also shot under par for the first time during the tournament and carded a career-low round of 2-under 71.
Junior Danielle von Arnim showed the largest turnaround from Round 1 to Round 3for the Cougars, improving from 9-over-par on Monday to 73 (E) in the third round. Her day was highlighted by three birdies, matching her total from the previous two rounds combined.
"We're excited about the breakthroughs we made today," Nyhus said. "We played more like ourselves today after two mediocre rounds."
BYU improved their overall team score by six strokes from their victory at the Oregon State Women's Invitational two weeks ago, going from 27-over-par to 21-over-par. The Cougars' final-round 292 was the third-lowest total of the day in the 18-team field.
The Cougars will next play in the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational in Sammamish, Wash., Oct. 10-12.
Results after Round 3
Fin. Team Score
1 Pepperdine 296-290-287--873 (-3)
2 Texas A&M 294-292-289--875 (-1)
3 New Mexico 297-291-294--882 (+6)
4 UNLV 293-295-295--883 (+7)
5 Ohio State 287-300-299--886 (+10)
6 USC 293-300-294--887 (+11)
T7 BYU 302-303-292--897 (+21)
T7 Cal Berkeley 297-304-296--897 (+21)
9 South Carolina 300-312-294--906 (+30)
T10 Baylor 301-303-306--910 (+34)
T10 Tulsa 305-304-301--910 (+34)
12 New Mexico State 300-314-299--614 (+37)
13 TCU 304-303-310--917 (+41)
14 Colorado State 302-310-306--918 (+42)
T15 San Diego State 298-317-305--920 (+44)
T15 UTEP 309-299-312--920 (+44)
17 Texas Tech 314-305-309--928 (+52)
18 Hawaii 328-312-322--962 (+86)
BYU Individual Results
Fin. Golfer Score
T19 Alexis Edwards 75-70-76--221 (+2)
T24 Rachel Newren 75-76-71--223 (+4)
T30 Juli Wightman 75-78-72--225 (+6)
T67 Natalia Jimenez 77-78-78--233 (+14)
T70 Danielle von Arnim 82-79-73--234 (+15)
T81 Ashley Childers* 83-76-78--237 (+18)
*Competed as an individual