Kansas Women’s Golf to Compete in First Ever NCAA Regional
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s golf made history when it was selected to it’s first-ever NCAA Regional April 28. KU will compete in the NCAA Central Regional, which is a 54-hole, three-round event, May 8-10 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
“We have just been trying to get ready with coming up for our plans to practice for the week,” head coach Erin O’Neil said. “At Karsten Creek the greens and rough are both bent grass, so we have spending every day out here at Lawrence Country Club playing and doing execution drills. We need to make sure we working on our pressure situations”
Kansas is one of 24 teams competing in the NCAA Central Regional with the top eight teams advancing to the NCAA Championship, May 20-23, at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Jayhawks will be paired with Kent State and Big 12 foe Texas on each of the first two rounds. Following a practice round on Wednesday, May 7, KU will tee off Thursday’s first round on May 8 at noon on hole No. 1 and Friday, May 9, at 7:30 a.m. on hole No. 10. The May 10 pairings will be determined on how KU does in its first two rounds.
UCLA is the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Central Regional, followed by No. 2 seed Arkansas and No. 3 seed Alabama. The region as a whole features nine top-25 teams and 16 top-50 teams in the latest Golfstat rankings.
“I think it’s a very strong region but I think we have a chance to finish in that top eight,” O’Neil said. “UCLA, Arizona, Alabama and Arkansas are probably the toughest teams there, but to me the spots are open to anyone. If we have a good week and play up to our abilities there is no reason it can’t be us.”
The KU team has successfully reached their first ever NCAA Regional appearance behind a top-10 finish in all 11 tournaments this season as well as finishing in the top-five in nine of those events. The Jayhawks were able to solidify their invitation to the NCAA Regional when it tied for fourth place at the Big 12 Championship (April 26-28), their highest placing in Big 12 history. It was KU’s highest finish in a conference championship since 1992 where the Jayhawks finished in third in the Big Eight Championship. The 2014 invitation to the NCAA Regional marks Kansas’ first team post season appearance since 1990, when the Jayhawks were automatic qualifiers by winning the Big Eight Championship. In 1990, the Jayhawks finished 14th with a four-round score of 1,270 at the Arthur Hills Golf Course in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
The Jayhawk’s will be looking to their usual faces this weekend as O’Neil is continuing with the lineup she has had much success with this year. The Jayhawk five consists of freshman Pornvipa “Faii” Sakdee, sophomore Yupaporn “Mook” Kawinpakorn, junior Minami Levonowich and seniors Thanuttra “Fhong” Boonraksasat and Meghan Potee.
Faii has made an appearance in every tournament during her freshman campaign as is currently averaging 76.25 strokes per round, which is third lowest on the team. Faii has also recorded four top-20 finishes this year with her best finish being a tie for fourth at the Palmetto Intercollegiate, Oct. 27-28, in where she carded a tournament total of 217 (+1).
Mook has been the most efficient player on the team as 27 of her 29 rounds played have counted toward her team’s final score. This was done behind her team-low 74.41 strokes per round which is currently the lowest average by any Jayhawk in history. A 2014 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Mook also leads the team in top-20 finishes as she has placed in the top-20 in 10 of her 11 events played. A 2014 All-Big 12 selection, Mook recently set the record for lowest three-round card in Jayhawk history as she recorded a 211 (-5), at the Big 12 Championship April 25-27. Her second place at the Big 12 tourney made her a Big 12 Championship All-Tournament selection for the second straight year.
Levonowich is averaging 77.47 strokes per round in her first full season at KU and has done so with four top-20 finishes. Her best performance came at the Diane Thomason Invitational last October where she finished in a tie for seventh after shooting an 11-over par 227.
Fhong will be competing in her 46th tournament as a Jayhawk, and during her time here she has moved her way up the leaderboard in a few categories. Fhong currently sits in a tie for second with Emily Powers (2007-10), with the second most top-10 finishes with 13, and sits alone in a tie for second for most top-five finishes with eight. Fhong is currently having her best season as a Jayhawk as she is averaging 75.59 strokes per round behind seven top-20 finishes this season.
Potee is the lone Jayhawk to capture a first-place finish this season at the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational in September. A 2014 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Potee is averaging 76.79 strokes per round in the 2013-14 campaign.
The NCAA Central Regional will be played on a 6,200-yard, par-72 course at the Karsten Creek Golf Club. The 24-team field will include Kansas, UCLA, Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, LSU, Oklahoma State, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Miami (Florida), Mississippi State, California, Kent State, Texas, UNLV, Colorado, SMU, Minnesota, Harvard, Lamar, Wichita State, Long Island, Siena and individuals from Purdue, TCU, Ball State, Illinois and Texas Tech. The event will feature 54 holes as the competitors will see 18 holes on Thursday, May 8, Friday, May 9, and Saturday May10.
Live stats from the NCAA Central Regional can be followed via Golfstat at: http://golfstatresults.com/public/indexh.cfm?tournament_id=5230.
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