Homegrown talent is showing out for the UNLV women’s golf program. Junior McKenzi Hall took home her first career victory at the 2023 Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational hosted by New Mexico at UNM Championship Course. She was co-medalist.
Hall, who attended Centennial High and also played in the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association, finished with a score of 9-under 208 for the tournament, secured her spot as individual co-champion with her second birdie of the day on the 14th hole and an even par on the remaining holes. All that came a day after she matched the program record for lowest round at 8-under 64 during Monday’s second round. She also plays in the Women’s SNGA.
“The first thing that comes to my mind after winning my first collegiate event is just how much work I’ve put in,” Hall said. “It’s finally paid off. It’s extremely difficult to win college events. You’re playing against some of the best players in the world, so to finally come out on top, it means the world to me, and it gives me so much confidence going into the season/. I can’t wait to keep it rolling.”
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Rounding out the Rebel lineup, junior Mayumi Umezu (+3) tied for 28th, sophomore Thienna Huynh (+4) tied for 31st, graduate student Maria Jose Martinez (+10) tied for 54th and her sister Maria Fernanda Martinez (+13) tied for 70th. Playing as an individual, senior Gracie Olkowski (+18) finished tied for 81st.
Behind Hall’s finish, the Rebels (+5) notched a fourth-place finish in the team standings. The team title went to Pepperdine at 14-under as they distanced themselves from the pack, including Kansas in second (-4), Arizona State (+3) in third.
The top-5 individual finishers included Kent State’s Veronika Kedronova (-9) as co-medalist with Hall, UNM’s Lauren Lehigh (-8) and Pepperdine’s Lauren Gomez (-8) in a tie for third, as well as Oregon State’s Raya Nakao (-6) in fifth.
“It was absolutely amazing to be back with the other teams competing again,” said UNLV head coach Amy Bush-Herzer. “McKenzi’s 64 yesterday and then her following that up with steady play to finish was incredible to watch. I couldn’t be more proud of her and I can’t wait to see what she and our team can accomplish this year. McKenzi has been playing well all summer and qualified for two USGA events. Her ball striking has been really good and a win was coming.”