Conor Kvatek/American Athletic Conference
Women's Golf

Abonce captures American Athletic Conference Championship

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Daniela Abonce captured the American Athletic Conference Individual Championship to help lead the UTSA women’s golf team to a fifth-place finish on Wednesday at Southern Hills Plantation Club (par 72/6,289 yards).

Abonce fired a 9-under-par 207 to claim the Roadrunners’ sixth individual league crown, winning the 54-hole event by one shot ahead of Tulsa’s Lovisa Gunnar. The sophomore entered the final day in a tie for third place at 6-under 138 after opening with rounds of 66 — the best score in a conference tournament in program history — and 72. She fired a 3-under 69 on Wednesday to move out of a deadlock with South Florida’s Melanie Green and past SMU’s Ellie Szeryk and Gunnar to the top of the leaderboard for her first career collegiate victory.

“Coming in, I just wanted to focus on this specific tournament and enjoy the next couple of days,” Abonce told the ESPN+ broadcast in a post-tournament interview. “I had a goal — and I achieved my goal — but it was to just focus on the next shot like nothing matters, and what’s next. I made good decisions today.”

Playing in the first wave of teams off the front side of the course, Abonce started her day with a birdie on the 373-yard, par-4 first hole. The Veracruz, Mexico, native bounced back from a bogey on the fifth with birdies on the 476-yard, par-5 seventh and on the 300-yard, par-4 ninth thanks to an approach shot that rolled to within a few feet of the pin, leaving her with a short putt for a three.

On the back, Abonce countered a bogey on No. 11 with back-to-back birdies on the next two holes. She then followed with five consecutive pars to close out a 3-under scorecard but had to wait more than one hour for the final group — which included Gunnar and Szeryk — to finish before officially becoming a conference champion. Gunnar finished with a 208 (68-67-73) and Szeryk fell to fifth with a 211 (69-68-74).

“I was, of course, nervous but at the same time calm,” said Abonce, who is guaranteed an NCAA postseason berth with her win today. “I was just waiting for the other players (to finish). I’m very grateful for my coaches and my teammates, and I’m so happy I got to spend this moment with them.”

Abonce joins five other former UTSA golfers who have won conference championships:  Allie Jordan (2009, Southland Conference), Shannon Jungman (2012 Southland Conference), Fabiola Arriaga (2014 Conference USA), Julie Houston (2018 Conference USA) and Ana Gonzalez (2019 Conference USA). Additionally, her 207 matches Arriaga and Gonzalez for the best 54-hole total posted by a Roadrunner at a conference tournament.

Behind Abonce’s win, the Roadrunners finished fifth in the team standings to extend their streak of top-five league finishes to 16 dating back to the program’s third season in 2008. UTSA carded a 7-over 871 (282-302-287) to end up three strokes ahead of No. 46 North Texas (874) and only five shots behind East Carolina (866) in the 12-team field.

Camryn Carreon was UTSA’s second-highest finisher, tying for 17th place with a 2-over 218. The senior from San Antonio opened the week with a 3-under 69 and bounced back from a 76 with a 73 today that was headlined by a pair of birdies on a three-hole stretch on the front. It marked the all-conference performer’s 10th top-20 finish of the season.

Morgan Ellison grabbed a share of 25th with a 223 (76-74-73). The junior from Peachtree City, Georgia, saved her best round of the week for the final day, turning in a 1-over 73 that featured a trio of birdies, including two as part of a 35 on the back.

Olivia Williams finished in a tie for 33rd with a 225. The sophomore from England began the event with a 1-under 71 and then closed with a 74 that was highlighted by an eagle on the 498-yard, par-5 16th and a birdie on the 342-yard, par-4 second.

Maria Bastarrica rounded out the UTSA lineup in 54th (79-83-72). The freshman from Spain carded her best round of the tournament on Wednesday, using five birdies — four on the back — to post an even-par 72.

No. 27 SMU rallied to win the title with a 21-under 843, followed by Tulsa (845) and No. 36 South Florida (850).

The NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Selection Show is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday, April 24, live on Golf Channel. NCAA Regionals will take place May 6-8 followed by the championship finals on May 17-22 in Carlsbad, California.