NCAA Women's RegionalsMay 8, 2019

Top programs (mostly) advance to the NCAA Women's Championship, with one favorite (clearly) emerging

2018-19 USC women's golf team after its NCAA Women's Regional victory
Courtesy of USC Sports Information

There was a lot of exhaling being done around the country on Wednesday as 24 schools—including most of the nation’s elite—extended their 2018-’19 seasons by one more precious start, qualifying for the NCAA D-I Women’s Championship at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., May 17-22.

Just one top-10 program (No. 9 South Carolina) and only two others in the top 20 (No. 18 Oklahoma and No. 20 Michigan State) failed to advance out of the four NCAA Women’s Regional tournaments. The Gamecocks finished a disappointing 10th at Tumble Creek Golf Club in Washington, while the Sooners and Spartans could not take advantage of the fact they were Regionals hosts, finishing eighth and seventh, respectively.

The play of Kent State, Vanderbilt and Texas was impressive, each school winning a Regional title. But the performance from top-ranked USC, a 15-stroke winner at the Cle Elum Regional, stood out from the rest. The Trojans, under first-year coach Justin Silverstein, went wire-to-wire at Tumble Creek Golf Club to grab their seventh team title of the season—and send a message.

“Patience has been a staple of this team all season, and we showed it again this week with a consistent three days of play,” said Silverstein, who in taking over from long-time USC coach Andrea Gaston has found quick success. “I’m really proud of the girls for staying focused for 54 holes and playing at a high level on a hard course. We’ve checked off a key goal of ours, and now there’s one more to go.”

After 36 holes, USC was clearly going to finish inside the top six in Washington and earn its 22nd straight bid to nationals, but the team didn’t leave anything to chance. Sophomore Jennifer Chang shot four-under 68 while sophomore Alyaa Abdulghany and freshman Malia Nam shot 69s to post the low 18-hole score of the tournament (10-under 278).

Interestingly, none of the 24 schools to get through regionals did so by starting the final round outside the top six at their respective tournament and ending the round inside the cut line. Without any last-day shuffling, there wasn’t quite the final-round drama that we’ve come to expect, but the four tournaments still had their exciting moments.

EAST LANSING REGIONAL
Forest Akers West Golf Course, East Lansing, Mich. (Par 72)

Qualifiers
Win: Kent State, -4/860
The Golden Flashes are no flash in the pan, grabbing their seventh team title in the 2018-’19 season. This breaks their school single-season record. It’s also their 11th top-three finish. The last two seasons, this squad has reached match play at nationals. Can you say sleeper?

2: Arizona, -3/861
The Wildcats have a chance to become the first team since Duke won three straight titles from 2005 to 2007 to defend their NCAA crown. Four players return from last year’s winners (seniors Haley Moore and Bianca Pagdanganan, junior Sandra Nordass and sophomore Yu-Sang Hou.)

3: UCLA, +10/874
Sophomore Patty Tavatanakit shot a closing 71 to claims medalist honors at Regionals for a second straight year.

4: Stanford, +14/878
The Cardinal are one of two schools (along with USC) to have made match play all four years since the format was added to determine the team champion, winning it all in 2015 and finishing runner-up in 2016.

5: Illinois, +18/882
The Illini made history on Wednesday. While having had three individual players advance to nationals (the last in 1995), they had never qualified as a team after six trips to Regionals.

6: Indiana, +19/883
The Hoosiers are the lowest seed (No. 14) from any Regional to advance, reaching nationals for the 11th time since 2007.

Failed to qualify
7: Michigan State, +22/886
T-8: Campbell, +26/890
T-8: Baylor, +26/890
10: LSU, +34/898
11: Louisville, +38/902
12: Georgia, +39/903
13: North Carolina, +42/906
T-14: Augusta, +47/911
T-14: Xavier, +47/911
16: Long Beach State, +62/926
17: Harvard, +64/928
18: IUPUI, +96/960

Individual results
Medalist: Patty Tavatanakit, UCLA, -8/208
2: Pimnipa Panthong, Kent State, -4/212
3: Haylin Harris, Michigan State, -3/213*
T-4: Yu-Sang Hou, Arizona, -1/215
T-4: Michaela Finn, Kent State, -1/215
T-6: Mikayla Fitzpatrick, Xavier, E/216*
T-6: Haley Moore, Arizona, E/216
T-6: Bianca Pagdanganan, Arizona, E/216
T-6: Kornkamol Sukaree, Illinois, E/216
10: Tristyn Nowlin, Illinois, +1/217
T-11: Erin Harper, Indiana, +2/218
T-11: Thitapa Pakdeesettak Kent State, +2/218
T-11: Allyson Geer-Park , Michigan State, +2/218*
T-11: Bethany Wu UCLA, +2/218

*Qualified as individuals for NCAA Championship


AUBURN REGIONAL

Saugahatchee Country Club, Opelika, Ala. (Par 72)
Qualifiers

Win: Vanderbilt, -4/860
Auston Kim, a freshman who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open last week, led the way earning medalist honors as the Commodores won their first Regional title since 2014. It was the team’s school-record sixth title of 2018-’19. It’s the first time coach Greg Allen’s squad has reached nationals since 2014 as well.

2: Florida State, -1/863
The Seminoles improved their team score each day (291, 289, 283), easily qualifying for nationals. All five starters finished inside the top 25 at Regionals, with Amanda Doherty (T-6), Frida Kinhult (T-13) and Beatrice Wallin (T-13) posting top-15s.

3: Duke, +4/868
Consistency has long been a trademark of Dan Brooks’ Blue Devils teams. The squad has yet to finish worse than sixth in any event this season. If they can finish the same way (or better) at nationals, it will be the seventh time in Duke history that they will have finished an entire season that well, and the first since 2014.

4: Virginia, +9/873
The Cavaliers followed up a slow start (296 on Day 1) with the best round of the Regional (283) on Day 2 to get themselves into good shape and grab their spot at nationals for the 11th time in the program’s 16-year history.

5: Auburn, +10/874
Home cooking served the Tigers well, even if they stumbled some in the first round (299 left them into a tie for eighth place). But after making only four birdies on Day 1, Melissa Luellen’s squad rolled in 29 more over the final 36 holes to "comfortably" advance to nationals with their No. 5 player, Elena Hualde, finishing T-8.

6: Tennessee, +12/876
The Lady Vols head back to nationals for the first time since 2016 and just the third time in seven seasons.

Failed to qualify7: Maryland, +15/879
8: East Carolina, +17/881
9: Furman, +22/886
10: Alabama, +31/895
11: Houston, +34/898
12: California, +36/900
13: Clemson, +40/904
14: Kennesaw State, +41/905
15: Denver, +45/909
16: South Alabama, +46/910
17: Murray State, +52/916
18: Albany, +53/917

Individual Results
Win: Auston Kim, Vanderbilt, -6/210 (by 1 stroke) 2: Linette Holmslykee, Murray State, -5/211* T-3: Virunpat Olankitkunchai, Maryland, -3/213* T-3: Morgan Baxendale, Vanderbilt, -3/213
T-3 Jaravee Boonchant, Duke, -3/213 T-6: Gina Kim, Duke, -2/214
T-6: Amanda Doherty, Florida State, -2/214
T-8: Anna Redding, Virginia, -1/215
T-8: Elena Hualde, Auburn, -1/215
T-8: Angelica Moresco, Alabama, -1/215*

*Qualified as individuals for NCAA Championship


NORMAN REGIONAL
Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, Norman, Okla. (Par 72)

Qualifiers
Win: Texas, -9/855
The Longhorns are in the midst of their best season since the early 1990s, having now won a fifth team title and broken the school’s 18-hole and 54-hole scoring records. They have three of the top 25 players in the Golfstat rankings: Kaitlyn Papp (T-8 at Regionals), Agathe Laisne (T-3) and Hailee Cooper (T-27).

T-2: Florida, E/864
The disappointment after winning the stroke-play portion of the SEC Championship only to be upset in the first round of match play helped fuel the Gators.

T-2: Wake Forest, E/864
Entering the Regional with their highest seed (No. 2) since the four-regional format was adopted in 2015, the ACC champs easily advanced to Nationals as opposed to a year ago when they tied for sixth and had to win a playoff over Clemson to grab their spot. Senior Jennifer Kupcho, the recent Augusta National Women’s Amateur champ, will attempt to become the first player to win back-to-back NCAA individual titles in Arkansas.

4: Purdue, +2/866
The Boilermakers got off to a rough start in the final round, going five over on their first few holes before settling in. The team made a combined 13 birdies on the day to reach Nationals for the 18th time in school history.

5: Arizona State, +4/868
Two years removed from winning the school’s eighth NCAA title, the Sun Devils had a bit of a nail-biter in Oklahoma but got the job done with a second-straight one-over 289 total on Wednesday. Olivia Mehaffey, fresh off winning the Pac-12 individual title, shared medalist honors with a eight-under 208. It’s the 35th time the Sun Devils have qualified for the NCAA Championship.

6: Mississippi, +7/871
The Rebels proved their first-ever SEC Championship title wasn’t a fluke, grabbing the final spot out of Oklahoma with a final-round two-over 290. Once again, freshman Macy Somoskey came up big, shooting an even-par 72 over the final 18 holes, to help secure the school’s first trip to nationals.

Failed to qualify7: Texas Tech, +10/874
8: Oklahoma, +12/876
T-9: Mississippi State, +17/881 T-9: N.C. State, +17/881
11: Virginia Tech, +19/883
12: TCU, +24/888
13: Texas A&M, +35/899
14: UT San Antonio, +37/901
15: Pepperdine, +41/905
16: Sam Houston State, +54/918
17: UNC-Wilmington, +56/919
18: Fairleigh Dickinson, +99/963

Individual Results
Co-medalist: Kaitlin Milligan, Oklahoma, -8/208*
Co-medalist: Olivia Mehaffey, Arizona State, -8/208
T-3: Agathe Laisne, Texas, -5/211
T-3: Michaela Fletcher, Memphis, -5/211*
T-5: Elin Esborn, Florida, -3/213
T-5: Amanda Hollandsworth, Virginia Tech, -3/213*
T-5: Micaela Farah, Purdue, -3/213

*Qualified as individuals for NCAA Championship


CLE ELUM REGIONAL
Tumble Creek Golf Club, Cle Elum, Wash. (Par72)

Qualifiers
Win: USC, -20/844
No school looked more dominant in any of the four Regionals than the women of Troy. The 15-shot victory in Washington was the school’s seventh win of the 2018-’19 season and their NCAA-record 13th Regional title.

2: Washington, -5/859
Six different Huskies posted top-10 individual finishes this season, hinting that Mary Lou Mulflur’s squad might be a tough out if they’re able to advance to match play at nationals given their depth.

3: Northwestern, E/864
As they did in 2013 when Tumble Creek hosted a regional, the Wildcats embraced the travel out west and secured another trip to nationals. Brooke Riley shot a course-record 65 in the final round en route to the team’s third-place finish.

4: Arkansas, +5/869
So what that they finished fourth at Regionals. The Lady Razorbacks have to be considered a favorite at nationals given that the championship will be played on their home course at The Blessings Golf Club. Similarly, senior All-America Maria Fassi, who finished T-5 at Regionals, has to be considered a front-runner to win the individual title as she plays one last event in her notable college career.

5: San Jose State, +8/872
The Spartans emerged as the class of the Mountain West Conference under first-year head coach Dana Dormann, then proved they wanted more as they jumped inside the top six on Day 1 despite being a No. 8 seed and never gave up ground. Interestingly, Dormann qualified for the U.S. Women's Senior Open, which takes place the same time as the NCAA Championship, and will now have to pull out of the USGA event.

6: UCF, +10/874The Golden Knights played the 18th hole at Tumble Creek in three under from their counting scores (and the back nine at eight under) to finish the round at two-under 286 and steal the final spot into nationals by a single stroke. It’s the first time since 1996 that the program will be play in the NCAA Championship.

Failed to qualify7: Ohio State, +11/875
8: Oregon State, +13/877
9: Oregon, +15/879
10: South Carolina, +17/881
11: Iowa State, +18/882
12: San Diego State, +25/889
13: Sacramento State, +28/892
14: Old Dominion, +31/895
15: Miami (Fla.), +38/902
16: New Mexico State, +61/925
17: Boston, +73/937
18: Southern Illinois, +88/952

Individual Results
Medalist: Jennifer Chang, USC, -11/205
T-2: Rino Sasaki, Washington, -10/206
T-2: Ana Laura Collado, UCF, -10/206
4: Kathlee Scavo, Oregon, -7/209*
T-5: Brooke Riley, Northwestern, -6/210
T-5: Maria Fassi, Arkansas, -6/210
T-7: Alyaa Abdulghany, USC, -5/211
T-7: Aneka Seumanutafa, Ohio State, -5/211*
T-9: Malia Nam, USC, -4/212
T-9: Natasha Andrea Oon, San Jose State, -4/212
T-11: Ellie Slama, Oregon State, -3/213*
T-11: Kelly Sim, Northwestern, -3/213

*Qualified as individuals for NCAA Championship


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