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SUU’s Taylor Viquelia Named Big Sky Player of the Year
By Ryan Miller
BOULDER CITY, Nevada — Taylor Viquelia didn’t leave the Big Sky Women’s Golf Championships with the prize she intended to get, but she didn’t leave empty handed either.
After finishing second in the tournament the last two season, Viquelia was hoping this was her year. And it was — in a sense.
Some putting troubles kept her from challenging for the win on Wednesday in Boulder City, Nevada, but the conference coaches didn’t hold a few missed putts against her, honoring the Southern Utah junior’s season by naming her the Big Sky Player of the Year.
“This means a lot,” Viquelia said. “This is the best I’ve played since I started golfing in college. I’m just happy with the way I’ve been playing.”
And, despite not walking away victorious (she finished tied for fifth), she was happy with how she played in the final round on Wednesday. Viquelia entered the last day just three strokes behind the leader and quickly cut into that deficit. After a birdie on the third hole, she moved into red numbers at 1-under and was just one stroke back of the lead.
But she could never get closer.
Though she struck the ball well, though she hit every fairway, though she had a birdie putt on 17 of the 18 holes, Viquelia never made another move up the leader board. Through the first 15 holes she had 14 pars and one birdie.
“I was hitting greens,” Viquelia said. “I either had the wrong line or I’d leave it short. So it was pretty rough. I was just disappointed in my putting. I had a really good chip on one of the par 5s, and didn’t make that putt either — so putting is definitely what I’ll be working on. Everything else is fine.”
The putting wasn’t all that bad, either. She rarely left herself with a difficult par putt and didn’t have a three putt until the 16th hole — where she got her first bogey of the day.
It was that bogey that eliminated her from title contention. It dropped her to even par with just two holes remaining and Eastern Washington’s Marissa Borja had already finished the day at 4 under. Before that bogey, however, there was a sense that she could make a move, because she was near flawless everywhere but on the green.
“She hits a lot of fairways, lots of greens, she has any number of different shots,” SUU coach Richard Church said. “She’d like to convert more birdies, she putts well, just didn’t get many to drop this week. It’s fun to have a player on your squad that always has a chance to win. Since I’ve been involved in SUU golf, this is the best overall season, as far as finishes go, that a player has ever had.”
And that’s why the conference coaches rewarded her with the player of the year award, even though she didn’t walk away as champion.
Idaho’s Sophie Hausmann won a playoff against Borja to earn the individual title, and her performance helped the Vandals to the team title finishing the tournament at 4 over par to beat Sacramento State by one stroke.
The T-Birds finished the tournament at 26 over par to earn a sixth place finish.
“We had a solid day,” Church said. “The women on the team will tell you they didn’t play today as well as they’d like to, but we had three rounds in the 290s and that’s pretty solid golf. This has been a great team to travel with — one of, if not my most favorite team I’ve ever coached. They all get along, they are fun to be around and they are really hard workers.”
Along with earning the player of the year award, Viquelia was also named to the all-conference first team as well as to the all-tournament team.
And her season might not be done. Church is hoping that she will get an at-large bid to an NCAA regional.
“Coming into the week, Taylor was ranked at a level that would put her right on the bubble,” Church said. “And I think her national ranking is not nearly as high as it should be. She’s had a great year.”