The Aggies had their eyes on the Big West Conference Championship from day one. Having finished second the past two years, they were hungry for a title.
“We’d been talking about this all year,” said coach Anne Walker. “We’ve worked really hard and the Big West was our goal.”
Their effort paid of Tuesday when UC Davis brought home its first ever Big West title at the San Luis Obispo Country Club in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
“It feels great,” Walker said. “I’m glad we continued the good play we’ve had all year.”
The Aggies took an 8-stroke lead in the first round on Sunday and they never looked back as they blew out second-place Long Beach State by 19-strokes on the tournament. This type of dominance was just what UC Davis had expected.
“We weren’t surprised at all,” Walker said. “We felt like we were by far the best team in the Big West and we showed it.”
The Aggies were led by junior Chelsea Stelzmiller who defeated freshman teammate Amy Simanton in a three-hole playoff to win the tournament after the duo finished the final round tied for the lead at 8-over.
It was the first win at the conference tournament for Stelzmiller who had finished in second the prior two years including a loss in a three-hole playoff as a freshman in 2008.
“Her experience really came into play this week,” Walker said. “It was thrilling to see her win after watching her be the runner-up the last few years. It was really huge for her.”
Stelzmiller also tied for the best single-round of any player at the tournament by shooting even-par on Monday.
Simanton began her final round with a bang.
She fired the Aggies’ only eagle of the tournament on the first hole and shot 1-under on the front nine en route to a score of 5-over.
However, it was not Stelzmiller and Simanton alone who carried UC Davis.
Freshman Demi Runas shot 1-over in her final round to move from eighth to fourth as she finished at 10-over.
Runas’ teammate, junior Alice Kim tied Stelzmiller for the best single-round of the tournament at even par on the first day, as she cruised to a fifth place finish at 11-over.
Senior Kimberly Johnson finished tied for 15th.
This event marked the third tournament win for UC Davis this season and the first time the Aggies have had four players in the top-5.
By winning the Big West the Aggies have locked up a spot in the NCAA West Region Championships for the second time in their three years as a division I program. The tournament will begin on May 6 in Palo Alto, Calif.
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.