COLUMBUS, Ohio – The University of Arkansas women’s golf team was on the right side of one stroke finishing eighth at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional Championship. The eighth-place showing moves the Razorbacks on to the NCAA Championship in Nashville, Tenn., May 22-25.
“What a day,” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor
said. “It feels so good to be on the right side of one shot today. I can’t say enough about this team’s fortitude. They just hung it all on the line today and on a day when we needed it most, they really rallied hard.”
Arkansas, ranked No. 34 this week, entered the day in 12th place but posted a 295, the fourth-best score of the day, squeaking into the eighth spot by one stroke over Oregon. The Razorbacks and the Ducks were both in the morning tee times but Arkansas finished nearly one hour before Oregon.
The Razorbacks finished with a 913 with rounds of 310-308-295.
The Razorbacks were in the clubhouse with what they knew was a great score, but all they could do was wait, hoping Oregon did not force a playoff or win outright in regulation.
Up by one stroke, the Razorbacks and their faithful fans hovered around the #9 green (Arkansas and Oregon both teed off from #10 to start the day) watching the final two Ducks come in. Oregon’s top player had a birdie opportunity on the final hole that would have forced a playoff but the ball didn’t fall securing the Razorbacks spot in the next round.
The other teams to advance out of the Central Regional include No. 3 Southern California wit 874, No. 10 Vanderbilt with 899, No. 33 Purdue with 902, No. 14 Tennessee with 904, No. 27 Virginia with 905, No. 16 Ohio State with 908 and No. 22 North Carolina State with 911.
Arkansas knew they had some ground to make up but Estes-Taylor and the Razorbacks have found themselves in the underdog position most of the year and were not rattled with the pressure to perform. In fact, all five players shot or matched their individual best score for the tournament in the final round.
Sophomore Emily Tubert
caught fire on the first nine turning at five under with two eagles and a birdie and tied the low tournament round with a 68.
“I don’t think I have had an eagle all year and to have two in three holes was really great,” Tubert said.
The Burbank, Calif., native played the front side one over finishing with a birdie on four and five consecutive pars. She finished tied for fourth overall shooting 218 (75-75-68).
“We went out and had a good time and I think we just gave it everything we had today,” Tubert said. “It feels awesome to get to NCAAs. We have worked so hard all year and this is a huge accomplishment for our team. I really couldn’t be more excited.”
Sophomore Emma Lavy
was steady all weekend finishing tied for 23rd overall. The Fayetteville, Ark., product finished with a 227 (77-75-75).
Junior Victoria Vela
tied for 65th overall shooting 236 (79-81-76). Vela rallied after opening with a double on hole 10 to finish plus four for the day.
Sophomore Emily Podzielinski
finished tied for 68th after posted a final round 76 for 237 (79-82-76). Podzielinski finished strong with a birdie putt on her final hole in her first-
ever NCAA Regional appearance.
Freshman Hally Leadbetter
rounded out the Razorbacks’ scores. Leadbetter finished tied for 96th after rebounding from a tough first day in her first collegiate postseason appearance. She was one of three players to shot 76 in the final round finishing with a 242 (89-77-76).
“I kept saying all week that we play well from behind,” said Estes-Taylor. “I wasn’t sure we could make up this much ground but we played our best golf in the final round. I’m so, so happy for this group. We have an opportunity to win a national championship and that is something very special.”
The rest of the field from the Central Regional includes No. 21 Oregon with 914, No. 28 Florida State and No. 9 Georgia tied for 10th with 919, No. 4 Auburn with 922, No. 39 Ole Miss with 930, NO. 45 Texas State with 935, No. 49 Notre Dame with 936, Michigan with 937, No. 41 Kentucky with 938, Harvard with 943, No. 46 South Florida with 954, UTSA with 963, East Carolina with 966, UNC-Wilmington with 969, Butler with 970 and Siena College with 981.