September 16, 2009–The recent European Women’s Amateur winner, Caroline Hedwall, posted a victory in the inaugural Golfweek Conference Challenge presented by VTech. For her, it was a walk in the park. Make that a walk in the desert … as in the Desert Course at Primm Valley Golf Club, one of two Las Vegas golf courses at the facility designed by the legendary Tom Fazio. Hedwall, from Oklahoma State University, fired a three-round total of 9-under-par to win the individual title. Pepperdine earned the team title while the Desert Las Vegas golf course earned accolades from all involved.
Hedwall, coming off a victory in the European Women’s Amateur in late August, won by a whopping five strokes and was one of just two players to finish under par for the three-day event. “I just hit the ball extremely well all this week,” she said after posting scores of 68-72-67—207. “And today (the final round, a 5-under-par 67) I finally made some putts so I was very comfortable out there. The second day I didn’t make any putts, hence the 72, but today they fell and that made all the difference.” Hedwall was very impressed with the layout at Primm. “I just love the course,” she added about Fazio’s design. “I had wedges into a lot of the par 4s so that helped me out and it’s just a fun course to play.”
UC Irvine’s Joy Trotter carded a 4-under-par 68 to finish second at 4-under for the tournament. “I’m playing well and it showed today,” she said. “My short game saved me. We do a lot of chipping drills in practice and it paid off this week. I got up and down a lot and this will really help my confidence.” Trotter’s experience at Las Vegas' Primm Valley also had her heaping praise on the course. “I’ve always been a big (Tom) Fazio fan” she said. “He gives you room to make mistakes but still recover with good shots. Plus it was in great shape for just coming out of overseed. I was very impressed.”
The team title went to Pepperdine at +17, edging out California at +18 and Chattanooga at +19. UNLV tied for 7th at +40, leaving Rebels’ coach Missy Ringler shaking her head. “It was a great event for us but I’m a little disappointed in our performance,” Ringler said. “I think our putting was probably the weakest part of our game this week and unfortunately we won’t have a lot of time to work on it before we head to New Mexico this weekend. But on the positive side, we had a very good field. Any time you can get teams like Oklahoma State, Pepperdine and Ohio State in the field, you’ve got to be happy with the event.”
Leading the way for UNLV was Ellis Keenan, making her debut for the Rebels. She had a final-round even-par 72 to rally for a tie for 18th at +7 for the three days. “I’m quite happy with how I played,” Keenan, from London, said. “But with the wind the first two days it was tough. I didn’t putt very well and it showed … The first day on the first tee I was a little nervous, but after that it was just playing golf and I enjoyed every bit of it. I love the whole course. The layout is great and from the practice round until the final round I really enjoyed the course.”
Ringler was excited with the play of Keenan. “She performed great, definitely like we thought she would,” Ringer said. “She has lots and lots of talent and we expect her to be a great part of our program.” Other UNLV Rebel finishers: Natasha Krishna finished tied for 28th with a 226 (76-74-76, +10), Alejandra Guacaneme tied for 33rd with a 229 (73-81-75, +13), Therese Koelbaek (79-74-77—230, +14) tied for 36th and Kristen Schelling (81-77-78—236, +20) tied for 58th. Photo from okstate.com. Story by Bill Bowman, Contributor.