Alabama women secure 12th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance
ATHENS, Ga. – The Alabama women’s golf team posted a 4-under par 284 in Wednesday’s final round to win its fourth tournament of the season at the 2017 NCAA Athens Regional and clinch its 12th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships.
The Crimson Tide (289-284-284/857) finished the tournament at 7-under par, 14 shots ahead of second place Northwestern (293-295-283/871), which finished at 7-over par after a five-under par third round. Michigan State finished third at 8-over par (284-297-291/872). Baylor (295-282-299/877) was fourth at 13-over par. Clemson (304-282-298/884) finished fifth at 20-over par and North Carolina (302-297-287/886) finished sixth at 22-over par. All six teams advance to the 2017 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships.
Alabama has now qualified for the NCAA Championship 13 times in program history (1987, 2006-2017) and 12 consecutive times under head coach Mic Potter. The regional title is the third all-time for the Crimson Tide. Alabama previously won the East regional in 2011 at Daytona Beach, Fla. and 2013 at Auburn.
“I think we did great,” head coach Mic Potter said following the round. “I wasn’t too worried going into today because everyone was playing really well. We are very familiar with the course since we play every year at the Liz Murphey, not to mention other tournaments. We are getting more and more comfortable with the speed of the greens and the breaks. I felt like we were trending in the right direction. All year we have started slow and played well in the last round so I thought we had another good round in us and sure enough we did.”
Sophomore Cheyenne Knight (71-71-69/211) was the Tide’s low finisher on Wednesday, carding a three-under par 69 to tie with teammate Lauren Stephenson (59-70-72/211) for second place at 5-under par. Stephenson has finished under par in 8 of 10 tournaments this season to lead the team in that category. Knight has come in under par in 7 of 10 outings in 2016-17.
“I thought I did pretty well,” Knight said. “I kind of got off to a rough start on the first few holes, but my Coach Potter just told me to stay calm and stay patient. I was hitting it well, and I just needed to wait for them to drop. Tying for second with my teammate is really awesome. I know you can go low on this course and I know I was not playing my best at first, but I know there are some birdie holes out here, and even though some people think the back nine are a little tougher, it’s only as tough as you make it.”
Freshman Kristen Gillman (73-70-71/214) tied for fifth at 2-under par. Gillman has now posted 20 rounds of par or better this season, one shy of Stephanie Meadow’s single-season record of 21, set in 2012-13. Senior Mia Landegren (76-73-72/221) tied for 24th at 5-over par after an even-par round on Wednesday. Junior Lakareber Abe (80-74-77/231) tied for 67th at 15-over par.
The regional victory is Alabama’s fourth tournament championship this season. The Tide previously won the Mason Rudolph Championship in September, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in March and the Bryan National Collegiate in April. The four wins equals the third-most for Alabama in a single season.
The 2017 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships will take place May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., with Northern Illinois University serving as the host institution. Alabama finished 12th at the 2016 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., for its ninth-consecutive top-12 finish at the NCAA tournament. The Tide will be seeking its second national championship at this year’s tournament. Alabama captured the 2012 NCAA title in Franklin, Tennessee.
2017 NCAA Athens Regional
University of Georgia Golf Club
Athens, Ga. (University of Georgia)
2t. Cheyenne Knight- 71-71-69/211 (-5)
2t. Lauren Stephenson- 69-70-72/211 (-5)
5t. Kristen Gillman- 73-70-71/214 (-2)
24t. Mia Landegren- 76-73-72/221 (+5)
67t. Lakareber Abe- 80-74-77/231 (+15)
Top Six Teams Qualify for NCAA Championships
1. ALABAMA- 289-284-284/857 (-7)
2. Northwestern- 293-295-283/871 (+7)
3. Michigan State- 284-297-291/872 (+8)
4. Baylor- 296-282-299/877 (+13)
5. Clemson- 304-282-298/884 (+20)
6. North Carolina- 302-297-287/886 (+22)