EWA BEACH, Hi. – Down by three strokes, California Baptist University managed to cut four strokes off its first-round score at the PacWest Championships.
Unfortunately for the Lancers, Hawaii-Hilo matched their performance to maintain its three-stroke lead to lock up the conference championship at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club Tuesday. The Vulcans captured the title with a 623 (312, 311) two-round score, while CBU finished with a 626 (315, 311) after both teams tied for the best round of the tournament Tuesday.
Marvi Monsalve came into the second round one stroke off the individual leader, Sawada, for the Lancers but slipped to fourth by the end of the day after shooting a 77 that put her at 152 overall. Nevertheless, Monsalve's season as a whole earned her the title of PacWest Player and Freshman of the Year.
The Lancers pulled in a host of awards, with CBU Coach John Hackney sharing PacWest Coach of the Year honors with the coaches of Dixie State and Hawaii-Hilo. Two other CBU golfers made the conference's first team with top-seven finishes.
Hilo produced the top-two individual finishers, in Kristen Sawada (150) and Jade Salvador (151), and had its entire top four in the top ten. Sawada and Salvador cemented their position after shooting four-over 76 and a three-over 75, respectively, in the second round.As is the nature of the sport, Hackney counted a number of unlucky bounces his team suffered that loomed large when the dust cleared.
"We are all heartbroken we didn’t win the title because we have been at the top of the heap all year, but it’s just one of those things," Hackney said. "It was just a matter of inches here and there. We came back out and had a great score today, but Hilo was right there with us."
Ultimately, Hackney was proud of how his team played in tough conditions throughout the tournament, as winds picked up between 20-to-30 miles-per-hour.
CBU had the best overall finish, with all five Lancers cracking the top-17, while the Vulcans’ fifth player finished 20th. With only the top-four scores being counted, CBU finished just three strokes off the leader.
Nathalie Silva produced the best round for CBU Tuesday, as she trimmed two strokes off her first-round score with a four-over 76. She shot 154 overall to place fifth. CBU's Tina Yang also cut two shots off her performance Monday, with a 77, that put her at sixth overall (167).
In addition to Monsalve reaping the top PacWest honors available, Silva and Yang both secured first-team, all-conference awards by placing in the top seven Tuesday.
"All-conference comes down to the tournament in the PacWest, so I am happy those three made it because they’ve been great all year for us and they certainly deserved it," Hackney said.
The biggest improvement for the Lancers came from Natalie Park Tuesday. The freshman sliced five shots off her score with an 81 that led to a 17th-place finish (167). Her teammate Nicollette Gino also finished 17th with a 167 after shooting an 84 Tuesday.
While the Lancers fell just shy of a championship, it is still their finest performance in the PacWest. They took sixth in the conference last year, their first as a member.
Now, CBU waits to hear of its playoff fate. It entered the week as the third-ranked team in the NCAA Division II West Region, and will likely still advance to the region tournament, despite the seventh-ranked Vulcans finishing No. 1 in the PacWest.
And while coming back from Hawaii without a title is a tough pill, Hackney feels it may better prepare his team for the regional tournament and beyond.
"You only get more used to the pressure the more you’re in it, so it’s good we were kind of in a dogfight," Hackney said. "We just said next time we’ll be the team on top. The way you look at it, the next tournament there’s nine teams and we want to be in the top three, so it’s OK if we don’t win but we want to make it to the last tournament and then win that one."