Under the guidance of Erin O’Neil the Kansas women’s golf program has seen unparalleled success as evidenced by the school’s second trip to the NCAA Championships in 2014, its first in 24 years. Entering her 16th season with the Jayhawks, O’Neil is the longest-tenured coach in program history and has made KU women’s golf a consistent player in the field at NCAA postseason events. The Jayhawks have been a part of three-straight NCAA Regionals including the program’s first team appearance in 2014.
That 2013-14 season set the benchmark for Kansas women’s golf. The Jayhawks finished the 2014 Big 12 Championship tied for fourth place, the best conference finish ever for KU since it finished third in 1992 in the Big Eight Championship. With an at-large bid, the Jayhawks not only qualified, but finished in the top five in the 2014 NCAA Central Regional Tournament. After a strong showing at regionals, they also qualified for the NCAA Championship for the second time in school history, the first time since 1990.
O’Neil came to KU in 2004 after four seasons as an assistant at Auburn. In her first season as head coach, O’Neil led the Jayhawks to a first-place finish at the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational, the program’s first team title since 2000. Under O’Neil, Kansas has won 13 tournaments, placed in the top-five 52 times and earned 87 top-10 finishes.
Her second season at KU continued building upon the foundation of success as the Jayhawks claimed another tournament victory at the 2006 Mountain View Collegiate as well as an individual championship for Chelsey Pryor at the 2005 ORU Shootout. The third season of the O’Neil era brought even more success; another tournament win at the 2006 Sunflower Invitational on top of three top-five finishes. O’Neil also guided Amanda Costner to an individual Big 12 Championship. The 2007-08 season saw Kansas win a tournament yet again after KU captured the title at the Marilynn Smith Invitational. O’Neil extended her impressive streak to five-straight years of winning a tournament when the Jayhawks won the team and Emily Powers won the individual 2009 Duramed Collegiate Invitational.
O’Neil has overseen the personal development of several individual champions while at KU but none of them put together a streak like Yupaporn Kawinpakorn during the 2015 fall campaign. Kawinpakorn rattled off three-straight tournament titles by claiming the Schooner Classic, Chip-N Club Invitational and Palmetto Intercollegiate medalist honors. In 2016, Kawinpakorn added to the list with five titles in an academic year after winning the DAC/SMU Invitational and Texas Tech Invitational championships. She opened her career with a win at the 2012 Price’s “Give ‘Em Five” event. Kawinpakorn also ended her Kansas career being named an All-American honorable mention selection by the WGCA, a first for any Jayhawk women’s golfer.
Other individual champions under O’Neil’s guidance include Pornvipa Sakdee (2014 Marilynn Smith Invitational); Meghan Potee (2013 Marilynn Smith Invitational); Grace Thiry (2010 Marilynn Smith Invitational); Emily Powers (2008 Marilynn Smith Invitational, U.S. Open qualifier); Annie Giangrosso (2006 Kansas Women’s Amateur champion); Meghan Gockel (2009 Duramed Collegiate Invitational); Amanda Costner (2005 Lady Boilermaker Champion, All-Big 12 First Team, NCAA Regional qualifier, 2007 Big 12 Champion and 2007 Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year) and Chelsey Pryor (2005 ORU Shootout winner).
Under O’Neil, the Kansas record book has practically been rewritten, as 30 of the 31 lowest 18-hole individual scores occurred under her tutelage. In addition, the Jayhawks have posted 28 of the lowest 29 season stroke averages in the O’Neil era. As a team, KU has notched 19 of its lowest 18-hole scores over the last 12 seasons and all nine of its lowest 54-hole team efforts in school history. Without a doubt, O’Neil has ushered in the most successful era of KU women’s golf, capturing 12 of the program’s 27 team titles.
Student-athletes have also thrived off the golf course during O’Neil’s tenure. O’Neil has overseen 45 Jayhawks placed on an Academic All-Big 12 Conference Team, as well as 24 Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars. In 2007, Amanda Costner was awarded Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year, an honor based on athletic performance, academic achievement and citizenship.
Prior to coming to KU, O’Neil was an assistant coach at Auburn, where she helped lead the Tigers to three top-10 NCAA Championship team finishes, including a tie for second in 2002. She coached four All-Americans and seven all-conference selections during her stint there. Before joining the Auburn program, O’Neil played professionally for three years on the Futures Tour and the Kosaido Ladies Asian Tour.
O’Neil was a four-year letterwinner at the University of Georgia from 1994-97 and led the Bulldogs to a pair of SEC Championships in 1994 and 1997. She was a three-time All-SEC selection from 1994-96 and earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 1994. She won the 1995 Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational and shot a 66 at the 1997 SEC Championship, the second-lowest round in UGA history.
O’Neil was listed on the Director’s Honor Roll for six quarters while at Georgia and was a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection in 1996 and 1997. As an amateur, O’Neil qualified for seven United States Amateur Championships, as well as two United States Opens.
|THE O'NEIL FILE|
|Alma Mater: Georgia, 1997|
|Hometown: Zephyrhills, Florida|
|2004-Present, Kansas (Head Coach)|
|2000-04, Auburn (Assistant Coach)|