The No. 13 Texas womens golf team claimed its second Big 12 Conference title on Sunday after the final round of the annual league tournament was cancelled because of rain. The Longhorns, who held the lead after both the first and second rounds, won the event by seven strokes over Texas A&M. The championship was hosted by the Aggies at the Pebble Creek Country Club (6,242 yards, par 72) over the weekend.
I am so proud of our team and The University of Texas for winning the tournament title, Texas head coach Susan Watkins said after learning the third round was cancelled. We had a totally different mindset coming into this event. We exuded confidence and I think all five women knew we could win this tournament if they all played to the best of their abilities.
Texas 36-hole total of 16-over 592 (292-300) was a tournament record, as was the teams first-round score. Texas A&M finished at 23-over with a 599, while No. 9 Oklahoma State was third with a 30-over 606. No. 20 Oklahoma (31-over, 607) and Baylor (32-over 608) rounded out the top 5 teams.
Two-time All-American and 2004 First Team All-Big 12 honoree Janice Olivencia (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) scored her career-best finish at the Big 12 Championship, finishing second to Oklahoma States Annie Thurman who claimed medalist honors. Olivencia shot back-to-back even par rounds and had a 36-hole total of 144 (72-72). The senior was seven strokes back of Thurman, who was the only player under par for the tournament with a 7-under 137 (69-68).
Junior Perry Swenson (Charlotte, N.C.) earned her career-best tournament showing with a third-place effort at the league championship. She was 1 over through 36 holes with a 145 (69-76).
Sophomore Devan Andersen (Guadalajara, Mexico) finished tied for 11th with a 6-over 150 (76-74) and was one stroke off a top-10 effort.
Junior Mariana Salazar (Torreon, Mexico) continued her strong play of late, earning a tie for 22nd with a 9-over 153 (75-78). Junior Lisa Ferrero (Lodi, Calif.) rounded out the teams lineup with a tie for 36th with a 13-over 157 (76-81) showing.
I think the turning point was several weeks ago at our own event (the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational) because we accomplished two things. First, we got out of the gates strong at the event and had the first and second round leads, which is something weve been trying to work on all season. And second, we came within two strokes of winnings against a sensationally strong field. That tournament gave us a lot of confidence and weve been playing differently - more confident and with a better purpose - ever since.
I think the win we have here at the Big 12s is hugely relevant for us for the rest of the season. Were heading into a part of the season where we traditionally play well. Now we just have to keep the momentum up for (the NCAA) Regional and the NCAA Championship, Watkins continued.
'I'm pretty overwhelmed right now,' Olivencia said after the round. 'I wasn't looking for any individual honors at this tournament. I was concentrated on our performance as a team because we really needed this win. It's been a long four years for me waiting for a Big 12 title. Finally winning one today feels amazing and I'm happy we finally were able to win one.'
'This win was in everyone's hearts before we even came out to College Station,' Swenson added. 'It's been an up-and-down year and it's finally started coming together for us in the last few tournaments. Everyone has been able to work through all of their issues, both on the course and off the course, and collectively, we knew our only goal this weekend was coming home with a Big 12 title.'
Andersen added, 'We knew this was our event to lose as soon as we stepped on the course for our practice round. We had one goal and after we had the lead, we were very tranquil with our position. I don't think anyone was scared or nervous today. We expected to play and we were all confident in what the outcome would be. We're just extremely excited now that we have the trophy!'
The womens golf teams victory at the Big 12 Championship was the squads second Big 12 title. The team also won the inaugural event in 1997, and has placed no lower than fourth in any of the Big 12 Championships.
Texas team title was the squads second of the season after claiming the Lady Northern at Ohio States Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ga., in October.
With the win, Texas dethroned Oklahoma State, which was three-time defending champion of the event. Also with the victory, the Longhorns will have the opportunity to defend its league championship when it hosts the 2005 Big 12 Championship at the University of Texas Golf Club.