ATHENS, GA.—The USC Trojans took control on the second day of the NCAA Women’s Championship with a course- and tournament-record 12-under 276, good for a 36-hole total of 16-under 560 that has them 12 shots ahead of defending champion Alabama. Anchored by freshman Annie Park, whose precision putting carried her to a five-under 67, the women in gold and cardinal added a round of 69 from Kyung Kim and two 70s from Sophia Popov and Rachel Morris to complete a historic day.
“We got off to a great start, hitting great shots, making birdies,” said USC women's coach Andrea Gaston, who felt like more of a spectator than a coach for most of the round. “With a start like that, the momentum can really help the rest of the team.”
That was certainly the case on a day when the greens at the University of Georgia GC firmed up, but friendlier pin positions allowed for slightly more aggressive play on certain approach shots. Having a round in the books seemed to make some players more comfortable on the in Round 2. A Tuesday 67 by San Jose State’s Regan de Guzman led the field by two shots, but on Wednesday, Alabama’s Stephanie Meadow, Vanderbilt’s Jenny Hahn, Tulane’s Maribel Lopez Porras, and USC’s Park all shot 67.
“I’m just trying to be committed and relaxed over every shot,” said Meadow, whose eight-under 136 leads the individual race by one shot over Park. “I set a goal this week and it was all mental.”
USC may have a commanding lead, but the experiences that some of Trojans have dealt with recently may prove more beneficial than the 12-shot cushion.
ATHENS, GA.—With its big, undulating greens and difficult pin locations, the University of Georgia GC held its own today, allowing only 19 subpar rounds on the first day of the NCAA Women’s Championship. USC (four-under 284), San Jose State (-4) and Duke (-2) were the only teams that broke par, with formidable foes Alabama (E), UCLA (+1) and Purdue (+1) only five shots back of the lead.
“Our goal was to be very patient,” said USC women's coach Andrea Gaston, whose squad has won five of its last six events and ranked No. 1 in the final Golf World/WGCA coaches' poll of the spring. “It’s a 72-hole event, so you’re always going to have a series of holes where you don’t do so well. But you can turn it around with a few birdies.”
The Trojans were led by freshman Annie Park’s two-under 70 and one-under 71s from juniors Rachel Morris and Sophia Popov. While still impressive, those rounds wilt in comparison to the five-under 67 that San Jose State freshman Regan de Guzman posted in the morning wave, a round that included seven birdies.
“I was just having so much fun,” said Guzman (right), whose team narrowly qualified for the tournament despite being seeded 19th going into the West Regional (only eight teams from each regional qualify).
ATHENS, Ga. -- On the morning of the 2013 NCAA Women's Division I National Championship, the fog is slowly lifting and will give way to warm temperatures in the upper 80s by midday. Today represents the culmination of years of hard work for the teams and individuals that have earned the chance to compete for a national title at University of Georgia GC. Let's take a quick look at a few of the 24 teams competing this week.
It's hard to start with anyone but Alabama -- defending national champs, current SEC and East Regional champs. Led by Stephanie Meadow, who carries an adjusted stroke average of 71.846 and was a sophomore member of last year's national championship team, the Crimson Tide will look to make this year's championship their seventh consecutive title of 2013. Add senior Jennifer Kirby and junior Hannah Collier to the mix, and the defending champ returns with one of the strongest teams in the field.
Back with a vengeance after finishing a shot behind Alabama last year, Southern California closed the regular season with the nation's top ranking and -- led by Annie Park's seven-under 206 and Kyung Kim's final-round 63 -- won the West Regional by a shot over Purdue for the squad's record sixth title of the season. The Trojan's have three players (Park, Kim and Sophia Popov) ranked in the top 14 in scoring average, led by Park's national best 71.846.
Less than two weeks removed from a dramatic Central Regional victory over Oklahoma on the Sooners' home course, the Duke Blue Devils arrive in Athens hoping to claim their first national title since 2007. The Blue Devils have senior leadership in 2012 Curtis Cupper Lindy Duncan, who was key in overcoming a six-shot final-round deficit to win the regional crown. It's tough to count Duke out at any point; they might just be strongest playing from behind. Also, they'll be playing alongside USC and Alabama in the first two rounds, keeping a close eye on their two biggest foes.
While several teams are deserving of mention in this column, it's tough to write a good preview without mentioning UCLA (making its 12th straight NCAA appearance despite a disappointing seventh at the East Regional), Purdue (senior Paula Reto's seven-under 206 was good for medalist honors at the West Regional), Oklahoma (a deep squad highlighted by juniors Anne-Catherine Tanguay, Emily Collins and last year's individual champ, Chirapat Jao-Javanil) and Arkansas (third at regionals is best in school history and coach Shauna Estes-Taylor played for UGA).
MY PICKS: I'm going with Alabama as team champion. Compared to other teams, the women from Tuscaloosa are close to home and in a friendly environment. They live for big events and look more than ready to defend their title after posting a 20-under (!) total at regionals. Stephanie Meadow could very well win the individual title after claiming medalist honors at regionals, but I'm going with USC's Annie Park. That Park shot 68 in the final-round at regionals is about all I need to know.
As far as wildcards go, which sometimes is pretty far, I'm picking Tulane to surprise some people. The team has not finished worse than fourth in any tournament since October, and in finishing second at the East Regional, defeated strong teams like Arkansas, UCLA, Texas and Oklahoma State. Keep your eye on the Green Wave.
Lets call this Operation Best Guess. I went a modestly unfulfilling 15 of 24 on my Women's Regionals picks last week, being outpaced by two folks at that other weekly golf publication (kudos to Mr. Ringler and Ms. Baldry).
I'd love to convincingly say that I will get my revenge this week with my selections for Men's Regionals, but well have you seen the field at each of the six sites? Seriously, there are a minimum of eight teams at each that can advance if playing close to their potential. (Interestingly, a fair number of these schools could also potentially lay an egg this week too if they're not on their games.)
All this said, here they are ... the 30 teams that will be advancing to the NCAA Championship later this month. Nate Silver, eat your heart out!
There is no truth to the rumor that by the time you stop reading this, the California men will have won another title.
The Golden Bears' winning ways (10 titles/12 starts) in 2012-13 will make this a year to remember regardless of their postseason showing. Of course, should they hold form and win an NCAA title, the number of memories will increase exponentially, not to mention the number of comparisons to the game's all-time great programs.
Here's a look at the Division I top 25 as we enter NCAA men's regionals week.
East: No. 10 Northwestern, No. 14 Auburn
Central: No. 9 Michigan State, No. 19 Mississippi State and No. 20 Wisconsin
West: No. 12 South Carolina, No. 14 Oregon, No. 19 San Jose State
Here's a look at all 24 qualifiers:
Crystal-balling what's going to take place this weekend at the three NCAA women's regionals— specifically identifying the eight teams that will advance from each site—requires a combination of four elements:
* Basic knowledge of the teams competing
* Historical understanding of how top seeds have done in previous years
* Willingness to let gut-instinct win out over reasonable logic
I'm not 100 percent sure which of these four is the biggest factor, but I'm more than 10 percent sure it's not in the above order.
Nevertheless, I will go ahead and make my annual stab uhh, I mean, well-researched attempt at predicting who will succeed and who will struggle at Auburn University Club, Jimmie Austin OU GC and Stanford GC.
If you are thinking of trying to do this at home, I offer you one statistic that might be a nice nugget to take into account. In 2010, eight schools not among the top eight seeds at the three regionals pulled off "upsets" and advanced to the NCAA Championship. In 2011, eight schools not among the top eight seeds also and advanced to the NCAA Championship. In 2012, seven schools not among the top eight seeds advanced to NCAA.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Picking chalk isn't necessarily the best method to this madness. You've got to make some bold choices.
Or you can follow what I did here.
Defending NCAA champion Alabama held on to the No. 2 spot in the poll, earning the remaining two first-place votes. The Crimson Tide are the No. 1 seed in the East Regional and have won five titles this season as well, including the SEC crown.
Duke, the ACC champion and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Central Regional, remained ranked third with Oklahoma and UCLA rounding out the top five.
The top six schools in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf men's Division I coaches' poll—California, Alabama, Texas, UCLA, New Mexico and Washington—earned No. 1 seeds when the NCAA golf committee announced the 81 teams and 45 individuals that will compete in the six regional tournaments May 16-18.
The top five teams from each regional and the low individual not on those teams advance to the 116th NCAA Championship at The Capital City Club (Crabapple Course) in Atlanta, May 28-June 2.
Golden Eagle G&CC, Tallahassee, Fla.
Teams (by seed)
Washington, Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Florida, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Oregon, Oregon State, Iowa, USF, San Diego, Loyola (Md.)
Sean Bosdosh, Maryland; J.T. Poston, Western Carolina; Maverick Antcliff, Augusta State; Richard Fountain, Davidson; Ryan Fricker, Bethune-Cookman; Trey Rule, Mercer; Daniel Walker, Richmond; Edward Figueroa, Florida Gulf Coast; Alex Wennstam, Augusta State; Hans Reimers, Mercer
The Blessings GC, Fayetteville, Ark.
Teams (by seed)
Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, SMU, Kent State, Illinois, Liberty, Tulsa, Kentucky, Colorado, Indiana, UNC Wilmington, UM-Kansas City, Alabama State
Chris Gilbert, Kansas; Mitchell McLeroy, Stephen F. Austin State; Pep Angles, Central Arkansas; Patrick Newcomb, Murray State; Paul McConnell, UT-Arlington
University Club of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge, La.
Teams (by seed)
Alabama, Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, Houston, Northwestern, Tennessee, South Alabama, Coastal Carolina, UAB, Wichita State, S.E. Louisiana, Houston Baptist
Jonathan Grey, Georgia State; Tomasz Anderson, Jacksonville State; Alex Ellis, College of Charleston; Kamito Hirai, Winthrop; Blake Morris, Mississippi; Sam Bernstein, Yale; Josh Lorenzetti, College of Charleston; Josh Waters, LIU Brooklyn; Steve Burak, Fairfield; Chris House, Navy
Ohio State U. GC (Scarlet Course), Columbus, Ohio
Teams (by seed)
New Mexico, Stanford, Auburn, South Carolina, Missouri, UNLV, Texas Tech, Chattanooga, Georgia Southern, San Francisco, Virginia, Charlotte, Valparaiso
Scott Fernandez, Iowa State; Robin Sciot-Siegrist, Louisville; Chris Selfridge, Toledo; Charlie Bull, Akron; Adam Schenk, Purdue; Matthew Moseley, Michigan State; Nathan Kerns, Marshall; Erik Van Rooyen, Minnesota; Korey Ward, Xavier; Dave Tepe, Cincinnati
ASU Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz.
Teams (by seed)
UCLA, Duke, Georgia, Texas A&M, Clemson, Vanderbilt, UCF, North Carolina, Arizona State, Kennesaw State, Arizona, Austin Peay State, New Mexico State, Lehigh
Glen Scher, UC Santa Barbara; Rufie Fessler, Fresno State; Cody Blick, San Jose State; Kyle Westmoreland, Air Force; Tyler Torano, Loyola Marymount
Palouse Ridge GC, Pullman, Wash.
Teams (by seed)
California, TCU, USC, St. Mary’s (Calif.), Virginia Tech, BYU, North Texas, Baylor, San Diego State, Ball State, Memphis, Pacific, Princeton, Saint Francis (Pa.)
Ryan Williams, Sacramento State; Tyler Raber, UC Davis; Mason Casper, Utah Valley; Taeksoo Kim, Boise State; Jordan Weir, Sacramento State
California likely has other things on its mind this afternoon as the Golden Bears attempt to claim the Pac-12 men's title at Los Angeles CC—they enter today's final round with a two-stroke edge on UCLA. They can be satisfied, however, that they remain the consensus pick as the No. 1 ranked program in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf Division I coaches' poll.
Steve Desimone's squad, winners of nine of their 11 starts, earned all 21 first-place votes to remain ahead of No. 2 Alabama, the recently crowned SEC champs.