Cougars Surge to Six-Stroke Lead in Dixie

Rachel Newren is tied for first after two rounds at the Dixie Classic

ST. GEORGE -- Led by All-American Rachel Newren and Sophomore Natalia Jimenez, No. 17 BYU surged to a six stroke lead after the first two rounds of the BYU Dixie Classic at Entrada at Snow Canyon on Tuesday.

Playing host to 15 teams, including five teams ranked in the top 30, BYU took two big steps toward winning the Dixie Classic, its lone home tournament of the season, for the first time since 1990.

UC Irvine led the field after the first nine holes before BYU pushed its way into a three-way tie for first with Denver and Irvine. At the end of the first 18 the Cougars held a slim one-stroke lead. BYU started the second 18 hot and climbed to an eight-stroke lead before settling for a six-stroke advantage after round two.

"We've got a lot of great players on this team." said BYU head coach Sue Nyhus, " These are some of the best rounds we have shot as a team at the Dixie. Our team was patient, poised and composed and that's what it takes to be successful on this golf course."

On the firm afternoon Entrada greens, Newren had a clutch 10-foot birdie putt on her final hole to climb into a tie for first place with TCU's Stephanie Sherlock at one-over-par. Newren, the 2005 Dixie Classic individual champion, had six birdies and an eagle on hole No. 1 and is looking for her fourth career victory at the Dixie Classic this year.

Just behind Newren was rising sophomre Natalia Jimenez, who was leading the tournament halfway through the second round before finishing the day with three bogeys on the last four holes. Jimenez is tied for third at two-over-par and is close to earning her fifth top 20 finish of the season.

"I hit the ball solid and played very consistently," said Natalia Jimenez, "Although I had a couple of mistakes, I know exactly what to work on for tomorrow. I'm proud of myself and of the team."

Juli Erekson had an impressive even-par second round to finish day in ninth place at four-over-par. True freshman Daphne Vines went 78-76 and is tied for 25th place currently.

Team scores were high thanks to afternoon winds, challenging pin placements and a very beautiful but difficult course. Conference rival TCU trails BYU by six strokes at 20-over-par while No. 19 Denver is just one stroke back of the Horned Frogs at 21-over. UC Irvine sits 17 back of the Cougars while No. 8 Arizona is 20 strokes off the pace at 34-over-par. BYU's B team is tied for 13th place and was led by senior Alexis Edwards at 10-over-par and junior Ashley Childers at 11-over-par. Freshman Camille Gardner was three-over after the first round and finished the day 12-over and tied for 37th individually.

" The golf course was in perfect conditions," said Jimenez, " the pin placements challenged us, the wind picked up at the end."

With a shotgun start slated for around 8 a.m, final round play will begin with the Cougars hoping to do something it hasn't been in 17 years--win its home tournament. Hosting a tournament can add a lot of additional stress and distractions to the coaching staff, but BYU show no signs of distractions on the first day. With BYU fielding it's most talented team in decades, Wednesday's final round will be a good test of whether this team truly deserves it's top 20 ranking.

"If we have all five of our girls playing well, I'm confident in saying we could win this one going away," Nyhus said.

1 Brigham Young    295-295-590  +14 

2 TCU 298-298-596 +20

3 Denver 298-299-597 +21

4 UC Irvine 296-311-607 +31

5 Arizona 303-307-610 +34

6 Colorado 304-307-611 +35

7 Idaho 308-305-613 +37

T8 Boise State 309-309-618 +42

T8 Nevada 318-300-618 +42

10 San Diego State 311-310-621 +45

11 Washington St. 316-306-622 +46

12 Colorado State 319-308-627 +51

T13 California 310-320-630 +54

T13 Brigham Young 312-318-630 +54

15 Portland State 318-317-635 +59

16 Weber State 330-344-674 +98

BYU INDIVIDUALS

T1 Rachel Newren 72-73--145

T3 Natalia Jimenez 72-74--146

9 Juli Erekson 76-72--148

T25 Daphne Vines 78-76--154

T49 Danielle von Arnim 75-83--158

T25 Alexis Edwards 78-76--154

T30 Ashley Childers 77-78--155

T37 Camille Gardner 75-81--156

T69 Hannah Summerhays 82-83--165

T76 Shayla Forsey 86-87--173

Tags: Results