Kansas Women’s Golf to Compete for the NCAA Championship
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Vying for its second-ever women’s NCAA Championship, the Kansas women’s golf team will compete for the national title at the Tulsa Country Club, May 20-23, in Tulsa.
Kansas, whose only other women’s national championship came in track and field in 2013, is one of 24 teams, and six individuals, which advanced through NCAA Regional play May 8-10. Following practice rounds May 18-19, Jayhawks will be playing their first two of four championship rounds with Virginia and Big 12 member Iowa State. The three teams will start on hole No. 1, May 20, at 8:36 a.m. and on hole No. 10, May 21, at 12:56 p.m. The final two rounds pairings and tee times will be determined on how teams finish the first two rounds. Tulsa Country Club measures 6,194 yards with a par of 70 for the NCAA Championship.
“Everyone stepped up,” KU head coach Erin O’Neil said of Kansas advancing through the NCAA Central Regional at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with a fifth-placed finish. “It was a true team effort across the board and that really takes pressure off when you know you have everybody in the lineup that can go low.”
Kansas enters the NCAA Championship ranked 29th according to Golfstat, its highest ranking in the 10-year history under O’Neil. If one would seed the field according to the Golfstat ratings, KU would be 21st in the 24-team field. In the NCAA Central Regional Kansas defeated six teams ranked higher in advancing to national championship.
“It was a really good chance to see how we stack up against some really good teams,” O’Neil said about advancing. “That will be a great confidence builder going into nationals. We want to show everybody what we can do and continue to do that.”
For the NCAA Championship, the Jayhawk’s will be looking to their usual faces 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.
Fhong and Potee both graduated from Kansas this spring and missed the May 18 traditional KU graduation ceremonies due to the NCAA Championship. A fifth-year senior Fhong, who graduated with a degree in liberal arts and sciences, has three top-10 finishes in 2013-14 and averages 75.7 strokes per round. Potee, an exercise science major who averages 76.9 shots per 18 holes, is the lone Jayhawk to have won an individual title this year finishing first at the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational in September.
Mook has been KU’s most consistent golfer in 2013-14 and her 74.4 average is on pace to break her own KU single-season record of 74.8 set in 2012-13. A 2014 All-Big 12 selection, Mook has a team-best 10 rounds of even par or better this season, including three 69s (two at the Big 12 Championship and one at the NCAA Central Regional) in her last two events.
Levonowich was Kansas’ top finisher at the NCAA Central Regional, tying for 19th with a three-round 222. She averages 76.4 strokes per round and has two top-10 finishes in 2013-14.
“From the start we have had very good team effort,” Levonowich said. “We work well together. We’re all really good enough that if one person plays badly, we don’t need her score. We are consistently good.”
Faji has been in the KU lineup in every event in 2013-14 and has a 76.4 scoring average. She has two top-10 finishes in her freshman year and is third on the team with four rounds of even par or better.
Kansas has finished in the top-10 of every tournament it has competed in this year, including 10 top-5 outcomes. The Jayhawks have ended fifth or better in each of their last four events and five of their last six tourneys this spring.
The Jayhawks’ best finish came at the Marilynn Smith Invitational (9/23-24), Manhattan, Kansas, and the Palmetto Intercollegiate (10/27-28), Kiawah Island, S.C., where they finished in first. The team’s lowest team score came at the Palmetto Intercollegiate where KU shot 12-over par, 876.
Kansas tied for fourth at the 2014 Big 12 Championship, its highest finish in a conference women’s golf championship since finishing third at the 1992 Big Eight Championship. KU won the 1990 Big Eight Championship at Alvamar golf Club in Lawrence, Kansas.
KU was an automatic qualifier for the 1990 NCAA Championship by winning the Big Eight Conference women’s golf title, i.e. pre-NCAA Regional era which began in 1993. The Jayhawks finished 14th in the 1990 NCAA Championships at Arthur Hills Golf Course in Hilton Head, S.C.
The 2014 NCAA Championship has eight teams ranked in the top-10 according to Golfstat. The field consists of No. 1 USC, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 Washington, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Alabama, No. 11 Arizona, No. 12 Stanford, No. 15 Northwestern, No. 17 N.C. State, No. 18 Virginia, No. 20 Michigan State, No. 21 Florida, No. 22 Ohio State, No. 24 Iowa State, No. 25 California, No. 27 Mississippi State, No. 29 KANSAS, No. 30 Texas A&M, No. 31 Tulane and No. 45 Campbell.
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