May 10, 2008–Sometimes all it takes to completely put a college golf program on the map is that one standout player who steps up in a big event and helps lead a team to greatness. Monte Montgomery did that early on in UNLV Men's Head Golf Coach Dwaine Knight's career, and now it looks like Lady Rebel Freshman Therese Koelbaek is doing the same for the Lady Rebels and Head Coach Missy Ringler. She is battling for the NCAA West Regional title–heading into the final round with a three-shot lead, and has her team in the runner-up slot with 18 holes to play. “In the short history of this program we have had some great players and Therese is right up there with them,” Ringler said. “She is playing really well right now.” She fired a career-best round of 68 on Friday. LIVE SCORING.
It was her second-straight sub-par round and it helped her move to the top of the leaderboard following Friday’s second round of the NCAA West Regional, being played at Lincoln Hills Golf Club.
The strong play of the reigning Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year has her squad in second place overall heading into Saturday’s final round with a total of 578 (288-290, +2). UNLV is seven strokes behind USC, currently ranked No. 2 in the latest Golfstat rankings, as the Trojans have a two-round total of 571 (283-288, -5).
The top eight teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championships, scheduled for May 20-23 at the Championship Course in Albuquerque, N.M.
“We feel like we have improved each time we have stepped out on the course this spring,” UNLV head coach Missy Ringler said. “Although we are excited about the way we are playing, we are still going to take it one day at a time.”
Koelbaek got off to a slow start, bogeying the second hole of her round and following that up with four pars heading into the seventh hole. She birdied that par-3, beginning a stretch of four birdies in seven holes which moved her to the top of the field. Koelbaek closed her round with a birdie on 17 and a par on 18 to finish at four-under 68, which is the lowest total of her career and of the regional. She has a two-round total of 137 (69-68, -7), good for a three-stroke lead over Azahara Munoz of Arizona State, who has a 140 (69-71, -4).
Her sizzling round on Friday is just the sixth in UNLV history of four-under or better and Koelbaek’s total of 68 is tied for the fifth-lowest score in the Rebel record book. Tomorrow she will attempt to become the second UNLV golfer to win medalist honors at a NCAA regional event, following in the footsteps of Sunny Oh, who won the 2003 NCAA West Regional, also as a freshman.
Making the biggest move on the day for the Rebels was senior Tonya Choate, who carded the first sub-par round of her career, a two-under 70 which catapulted her from tied for 39th to tied for eighth. Choate, who transferred to UNLV at the beginning of the season, birdied her first two holes of the day then rolled in 16 consecutive pars. She has a 54-hole total of 144 (74-70, E).
Rebel sophomore Natasha Krishna is tied for 36th with a two-round total of 149 (71-78, +5), senior Kasi Lee is tied for 61st at 152 (74-78, +8) and Alejandra Guacaneme is tied for 68th with a total of 153 (79-74, +9).