LUBBOCK, Texas A final round 304 allowed the 18th-ranked University of Arkansas women’s golf team to leapfrog two teams climbing into eighth place at the 2005 NCAA Central Region Championship and earn the programs first-ever trip to the NCAA Championship. “It’s kind of funny,” said head coach Kelley Hester. “We came off the course in ninth or 10th place and I gave the team the too bad, we were so close, looks like we missed it by one stroke like at SECs’ speech. Then, all of a sudden, we were back in it.” Arkansas finished the Regional shooting a 915 with rounds of 300, 311 and finishing with a 304 paced by junior El Dorado, Ark., native Amanda McCurdy’s 75. McCurdy had struggled much of the event but stepped up big for the Lady’Backs in the final round.
The First Time
The 2005 appearance at the NCAA Championship is the first-ever in the 10-year history of the Arkansas golf program. Arkansas has made four NCAA Regional appearances, first in 1999-00 under head coach Ulrika Belline. The Lady’Backs have made three consecutive regional showings since Kelley Hester took over in 2002-03.
About the NCAA Championship Field
Top-ranked Duke leads the field in the 24-team NCAA Championship in Sunriver, Ore. Second-ranked UCLA, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 4 Pepperdine and No. 5 Auburn are also in the field. See the list at the right for the entire field.
Arkansas One of the Last In
The Lady Razorbacks, No. 15 Washington and No. 21 Stanford, were the last three teams who earned a trip to the NCAA Championships by finishing eighth in their respective regionals. Arkansas, however, posted the highest score of any team getting into the Championships with a 915. Stanford posted a 908 and Washington a 900.
About Sunriver Meadows
The Meadows was designed by acclaimed golf course architect and former U.S. Amateur Champion John Fought. With towering Mt. Bachelor as it’s backdrop, Meadows winds along side the beautiful Sun River and through strands of Ponderosa and Lodge Pole Pine. Featuring bent grass tees and greens and Fought’s dramatic use of directional and fore-bunkers, Meadows serves up ample challenges for all. On or off the course, Sunriver Resort is the Northwest’s vacation destination. For the largest selection of rooms, suites, condominiums and homes and for information on golf, ski and family vacations, call Sunriver Resort.
Arkansas has been strong in most of their final rounds all season. The Lady Razorbacks average 302.8 strokes in final round play – the lowest stroke average for any of the rounds. Arkansas averages 303.36 in the first round and 306.22 in the second.
Records falling at Arkansas
Kelley Hester took over an Arkansas golf program that was 367-618-7. Since Hester took over Arkansas is 298-210-7 including a 126-48-1 (.723) record this year.
More About Records
The Lady Razorbacks have rewritten the record books since head coach Kelley Hester took over for the 2002-03 season. The lowest competitive round record fell just last weekend when redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis counted a 67 in the final round of the SEC Championships. That mark erased a 68 that both Lewis and junior Amanda McCurdy held. Lewis also finished the SEC Championship with a three-round 214 bettering the previous record of 216 also held by both Lewis and McCurdy. Lewis holds the record for lowest two-round tournament with a 141 in the rain-shortened Jeannine McHaney Invitational this year bettering the 147 of Adrienne Mucci set in 1999. The single-season stroke average is also in jeopardy with Lewis’ 74.25 stroke average. Although the season is not over, the current record is 74.85 held by McCurdy and set last season. Lewis and McCurdy will also challenge the single-season rounds played record this year. The current record is 33 held by McCurdy and Courtney Mahon and set in the 2003-04 season. Lewis, Courtney Mahon and McCurdy have 31 rounds played this year with four more to play at the NCAA Championship.
As a team, Arkansas tied the record for lowest single round with a 289 in the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Classic this year. They bettered the previous three-round total of 894 set in 2003 with an 881 set at the Central District Invitational in the first event of the spring and bettered the two round total with a 602 at the Jeannine McHaney Invitational. Finally, the team is on track to set the lowest single-season team stroke average mark. The current record is 305.82 set last year. This year’s team average is 304.0 heading into NCAAs.
Arkansas’ Regional History
This year marks the fourth that Arkansas has traveled to Regionals. The first trip came in 1999-00 when the Ulrika Belline-lead team was selected to the East Regional. There were only two regionals (East and West) at that time and the Lady’Backs traveled to Ohio State finishing 24th out of 25 teams.
Kelley Hester took over the program in 2002-03 and promptly guided Arkansas to back-to-back-to-back Regional appearances in the three-region alinement. In 2003, the Lady’Backs traveled to Lincoln, Neb., finishing tied for 15th overall in the 21-team field. Arkansas was 16th last year in Normal, Ill.