Pair of Jayhawks Return to NCAA Regionals
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s golfers Yupaporn “Mook” Kawinpakorn and Pornvipa “Faii” Sakdee have been selected to compete as individuals in the 2016 NCAA Regional in Shoal Creek, Alabama at Shoal Creek Club, May 5-7, as the Golf Channel announced NCAA teams and individuals Monday. The KU pair will make school history as the most number of Jayhawks to compete as individuals in an NCAA postseason.
A total of 72 teams make up the NCAA field with 18 teams competing in four regional sites. Kawinpakorn and Sakdee are two of six individuals selected for the Shoal Creek Regional. The low six teams and low three individuals (not on those teams) from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 20-25, at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon.
“It feels awesome. This year we didn’t have to wait-and-see if I’m going, it was a question of where,” said Kawinpakorn who is ranked 18th nationally according to Golfstat.com. “It was unexpected to hear Faii is going with me too because we weren’t sure if she played enough tournaments to have the ranking to go. It is exciting to have Faii to go with me.”
Kawinpakorn is coming off her fourth-consecutive Big 12 All-Tournament honor, a program first, after she tied for fifth at the Big 12 Championship last weekend at Dominion Golf Club in San Antonio. Through 10 stroke-play events in 2015-16, the senior is averaging a team-best 71.3 strokes per round which is on pace to break her own school record set last year. A three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Kawinpakorn set the KU single-season record for strokes per round in 2012-13 at 75.4, broke her own mark with a 74.5 average in 2013-14 and once again set a new record with her 73.4 average in 2014-15.
In 2015-16, Kawinpakorn won five individual titles, setting a KU record for most titles in a season. Along the way to capturing her five titles, Kawinpakorn set new KU records for 18-hole score with her 63 (-8) in the opening round of the Schooner Classic (9/19-21) and 54-hole score with a 209 (-7).
Meanwhile Sakdee has impressed in limited action in 2015-16. The junior is on a hot streak with two consecutive top-20 finishes, tying for seventh at the Red Raider Invitational and 12th at the Big 12 Championship. Her stroke average of 74.2 showed steady improvement from her 2014-15 average of 74.9 and also places amongst the top five in school history.
“I am so excited. I just played one semester and I’m going to be (at the NCAAs) again after going there my freshman year,” Sakdee said. “I was not sure I would go. Just having one semester of play and having the opportunity to go is crazy.”
This will not be the first time Kawinpakorn and Sakdee have played in the postseason together. Both were part of the KU squad that secured an at-large team selection in 2014 and advanced to the NCAA Championship, where the Jayhawks finished 24th. Kawinpakorn is the first Jayhawk to make a third trip to the NCAA postseason, as she competed as an individual at the 2015 San Antonio Regional, where she tied for 10th and finished one stroke short, with a score of 213 (-3), of qualifying for nationals. Sakdee will be making her second trip to the NCAA Regional, her first as an individual. The presence of two Jayhawks in the postseason gives KU head coach Erin O’Neil reason to believe that the team has the potential to return to the postseason soon.
“We knew Faii had a chance, she played well this spring. It’s great to have two of them going and representing us in the postseason,” O’Neil said. “I think it shows that we’re close, that we have the talent (to qualify for the postseason). It gives Faii valuable talent to bring next year and will hopefully help her lead in a way that will motivate others to step up their games too.”
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