NCAA women's golf regionals: Cal, USC on top through first round

Mark Hoffman

USC leads the west regional and Cal is tied for first in the central regional after the first round of competition in the NCAA women’s golf regionals. Nine Pac-12 teams in all are participating in regional play – Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington – so read on to see what your favorite Pac-12 school has done so far.

West regional (Tumble Creek Club at Suncadia Resort; Cle Elum, Washington)

USC

USC didn’t just win the 2013 NCAA women’s golf team championship; it dominated the competition, breaking an NCAA record by shooting 276 (-12) as a team in the second round and winning the national championship by 21 strokes. Fast-forwarding to 2014, Thursday was business as usual for the defending national champions: Top-seeded USC finds itself atop the west regional leaderboard with a 4-under 284. The Trojans had two golfers finish under par Thursday at Tumble Creek, with Kyung Kim as the individual clubhouse leader at -6 and defending NCAA individual national champion Annie Park at -1 (tied for eighth).

Washington

What do two players going 2-under and another two carding 2-over get you? Even par for the round, which is what fourth-seeded Washington shot for its first 18 holes as a team. This leaves the Dawgs four back of USC and in sole possession of second place. SooBin Kim and Jennifer Yang supplied the red numbers (and are tied for fifth on the individual leaderboard with their 70’s), while Charlotte Thomas and Kelli Bowers provided the 74’s. And, if it wasn’t for a rough stretch for each golfer (Thomas bogeyed three of her last four; Bowers triple-bogeyed No. 5), they could have both shot sub-72 as well. And oh hey, look what the Huskies found on the course:

 

Arizona State

Give the Pac-12 a 1-2-3 finish Thursday because the Forks are looking pretty good as well, wrapping up the first round with a 1-over 289 and in the bonze spot. Junior Noemi Jimenez was an absolute stud Thursday and shot 5-under, but that’s almost to be expected of the No. 4 collegiate player in the nation according to Golfstat. Shooting even par on her first nine holes, Jimenez tore up the back nine, which is where she registered all five of her birdies. Justine Lee also did work for the Sun Devils by posting an even par, fighting back from bogey, double-bogey on 12 and 13 to par four holes in a row and birdie 18.

Oregon

The Ducks were the darlings of regional competition in 2013, when the 14th-seeded Quacks finished tied for sixth in the NCAA west regional to advance to the NCAA championships.  Seeded 11th in 2014, Oregon again needs to play above its original standing to continue its season beyond Saturday. The initial indications are not good, however, because Ria Scott’s women shot 311 (+23) as a team, leaving themselves in 16th with 36 holes remaining. Caroline Inglis was a bright spot, as the native daughter of Eugene registered an eagle on 12 en route to an even-par 72.

Central regional (Karsten Creek Golf Club; Stillwater, Oklahoma)

California

As the No. 12 seed, California isn’t expected to seriously contend for the regional crown. Don’t tell that to the Golden Bears, however, because they are tied for first with Alabama after posting a 7-over 295. Hannah Suh is the low Bear at even par, one of 10 golfers in the Oklahoma field of 126 to shoot 72 or better. Nicola Rössler (check out a profile of Rössler here) and Carly Childs both shot 2-over, while Lucia Gutierrez put together a round of 75. And that, my friends, is how you get to +7 as a team. Heck of a performance by Cal on Thursday.

UCLA

Up next on the Pac-12 ledger in the central regional is top-seeded UCLA, which is four strokes off the lead at 299 (+11) and currently in a tie for sixth with upstart Minnesota (No. 19 seed). After putting up two blue squares on her first two holes, freshman Bronte Law played bogey free golf over her final 10 holes and finished as the low Bruin at 1-over by birdieing 18. Law’s Thursday result leaves the Pac-12 Preview champion in a tie for 11th. Meanwhile, fellow frosh, 2014 Pac-12 individual champion and top-ranked women’s collegiate golfer Alison Lee finds herself at 3-over alongside teammate Louise Ridderstrom.

 

Arizona

The fourth-seeded Wildcats have some catching up to do on Friday and Saturday after signing off on a 306 (+18) Thursday and tied for 12th. The good news for the Wildcats is that two of their golfers – Pac-12 runner-up Lindsey Weaver and Manon Gidali – shot 2-over, solid results on a course that forced plus signs from more than 90 percent of the field. The bad news for the Wildcats is that two of their golfers – Wanasa Zhou (who has exceeded freshman expectations otherwise) and Jessica Vasilic – shot higher than 80 (Vasilic’s 82 did not count towards the Arizona team score).

 

Colorado

Last year, Jennifer Coleman was the only Buff to participate in regional competition; this year, she has four teammates with her. Despite finishing in last place at the Pac-12 Championships, the Buffs did enough throughout the season to earn a No. 17 seed in the central regional. So far, Ralphie is hanging in there in the middle of the pack in a tie for 12th place with Arizona with a 306 (+18). Last year’s lone NCAA regional golfer has lead the charge so far this year; Jennifer Coleman is the lowest Buff of ‘em all at even par, while her twin sister Kristin was second-best for CU with a 76 (+4).

East regional (SouthWood Golf Club; Tallahassee, Florida)

Stanford

The surprising Pac-12 champs are the only ones out East from the Pac-12, and while their team score of 291 (+3) would lead the central, it wouldn’t even allow the Cardinal to advance out of the Tallahassee if regional competition ended Thursday. As such, tied-for-11th Stanford has some work to do. It could certainly use a little more of what Mariah Stackhouse offered up, as she cruised through the course without a bogey and carded a 68 (-4). That score has Stackhouse in a tie for third and three strokes behind Tulane’s Emily Penttila for the individual lead. Lauren Kim and Casey Danielson also had solid rounds for Anne Walker and Co. at E and +1, respectively.

Regional competition continues Friday and concludes Saturday. The top-8 teams out of each 24-team regional will advance to the NCAA championships along with the top-two individuals whose teams don’t make the cut. The NCAA women’s golf championships will be held May 20-23 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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