BYU's Rachel Newren was named All-MWC for the second consecutive season (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ST. GEORGE -- BYU put together a solid final round, but it wasn't enough to overcome UNLV and New Mexico as the Cougars finished the 2006 Mountain West Conference Championship in third place at Entrada at Snow Canyon on Saturday.
For the second consecutive day the Cougars stayed close to UNLV, but couldn't cut into the Rebel lead. BYU carded a final-round 303 and finished 12 strokes behind UNLV and seven strokes behind second-place New Mexico. No. 13 UNLV has now won three consecutive MWC Championships, while the Cougars finished third for the second consecutive year.
"Across the board we held it together and got steady play from all of our team," BYU head coach Sue Nyhus said. "We didn't lose this tournament, but got beat by two very good teams who played very well. Basically the difference between us winning and us finishing third was the back nine on the first day. Other than that we played even with UNLV and New Mexico."
Sophomore Ashley Childers had a breakout performance for BYU. Her final-round 71 was the best round of her career and moved her into the top 10 at fifth place. Childers was the top Cougar in the Championship and becomes the fourth different Cougar to lead the team this year.
"Ashley's performance puts confidence in the rest of the team because now they all know that two or three golfers don't have to carry this team," Nyhus said. "It takes pressure off our top players because they know everyone can go under par on this team.
New Mexico's Swedish connection of Mikaela Backsedt and Py Bengstsson tied for first place at six-over-par along with UNLV's Da Sol Chung. Chung won the individual championship in a one-hole playoff to break the three-way tie and was also named the MWC Player of the Year and Co-Freshman of the Year.
Junior Rachel Newren was named to the all-conference team for the second consecutive year. Newren was five-over-par on the final day to finish 72-77-77--226 and tied for seventh place. Alexis Edwards also finished in the top 15 after a five-over-par final day. Edwards ended the tournament 12-over and in 12th place. Danielle von Arnim was steady all tournament and finished tied for 20th with a 78-77-78--236. Juli Wightman, who has been BYU's No. 2 golfer all season, had a difficult final round and dropped to 28th place after starting the day tied for 11th.
Next up for the Cougars is the NCAA West Regional held on May 11-13 in Auburn, Washington. Last year, despite finishing third in the conference championship, BYU was the lone MWC team to advance to the NCAA Championship with a great performance at the NCAA West Regional in New Mexico. Nyhus believes her team can repeat that performance.
"We're looking to peak at the right time again this year," Nyhus said. "We're ready to go to regionals and tear it up."
1. UNLV 291-303-301--895 +31
2. New Mexico 303-295-302--900 +36
3. BYU 300-304-303--907 +43
4. TCU 312-294-321--927 +63
5. San Diego St. 310-302-318--930 +66
6. Colorado St. 311-302-321--934 +70
7. Wyoming 321-320-313--954 +90
T5. Ashley Childers 76-78-71--225 +9
T7. Rachel Newren 72-77-77--226 +10
12. Alexis Edwards 77-74-77--228 +12
T20. Danielle von Arnim 78-77-78--233 +17
T28. Juli Wighman 75-76-90--241 +25