SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The 11th-ranked University of Arkansas women’s golf team rallied in the final round of the 2011 NCAA Central Regional Championship and earned the program’s fourth NCAA Championship trip with a fourth-place finish Saturday.
Arkansas carded a tournament best 289 in the final round finishing with an 899 for the event.
The Razorbacks were in fourth place when they finished their round and were feeling good about their position when the skies opened up and caused a delay with about 16 teams in the midst of their final round.
Speculation swirled about what would happen if play could not continue but competitors were recalled to the golf course after a 2:12 lightening delay to finish the round.
"This has been a great championship golf course, and after the first day we were kind of behind the eight ball a bit," Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. "But this group has persevered all year long, and I actually had a calm in knowing that this would be our day. The team went out and did exactly what they needed to do in probably some of the most stressful golf conditions you could have, trying to get in the national championship. I am so proud of this group, we have done it as a team all year long, and we look forward to heading to College Station for the NCAA Championships and a (shot at a) title."
Freshman Emily Tubert came off the course tied for second shooting 219 for the weekend on the Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind. Tubert shot 75-69-75 and was the leader after the second round and finished tied for third when the dust settled.
Redshirt freshman Emma Lavy had the most dramatic comeback going low and tying Tubert for the second-lowest round of the weekend with a 69 on Saturday. The Fayetteville, Ark., native shot 82-80-69 for 231 and a tie for 52nd overall.
"She has gotten better every week," Estes-Taylor said. "I think she was a little nervous coming out of the blocks, but she got really comfortable from the get-go today, and as a freshman, to shoot three-under par in one of toughest golf courses, and under the conditions it is just fantastic. It shows that we have a bright future in Fayetteville."
Senior Kelli Shean finished with a solid tournament with a 224 and rounds of 72-79-73, to tie for 14th while fellow upperclassman Corinna Rees finished with a 230 with rounds of 78-78-74. Rees finished tied for 42nd.
Sophomore Victoria Vela rounded out Arkansas’ scores and played one-over Saturday with a 73. Vela bogeyed the first hole and counted 17 consecutive pars to finish. She scored a 232 with rounds of 82-77-73 for the event and tied for 58th overall.
Play came down to the wire and the final eight teams who advance to the NCAA Championship from the Central Regional are No. 2 UCLA who won the event with an 890, No. 8 LSU with 894, No. 39 Minnesota with 897, No. 11 Arkansas with 899, No. 27 and host Notre Dame with 901, No. 30 Ohio State in sixth with 905, No. 24 Stanford with 908 and in a last-hole effort No. 15 Wake Forest edged No. 5 Duke for the final spot with a 909.
The Razorbacks return to Fayetteville for a week of finals and practice before departing for the NCAA Championship next weekend.