Tide Women's Golf Heads To Regional

When Alabama Men's Golf Coach Jay Seawell was able to add former national championship winning coach Mike McGraw to the Bama staff prior to this year, it offered an opportunity for a payoff for the Crimson Tide women's team. Although McGraw coached both the Oklahoma State men's and women's teams, it was his knowledge of a golf course that interested Alabama Women's Coach Mic Potter.

Potter and the Alabama women's golf team was to leave Monday for Stillwater, Okla., where the Crimson Tide is the third seed in the NCAA Central Region Championship Tournament. Play will be Thursday-Saturday over the 6,200-yard, par-72 Karsten Creek Golf Club. The top eight teams from three regionals advance to NCAA Championships at Tulsa Country Club May 20-23.

That's where McGraw comes in since his Oklahoma State team played frequently at Karsten Creek.

"We've never played there," Potter said. "Fortunately, Mike McGraw, our men's assistant, knows probably more about that golf course than any human alive. We had a session with him and he did a great job of conveying to the girls what they should be aware of. My son (Ryan) is an assistant at Ohio State and they played there and so I've got his information, too."

Five players play each day and best four scores each day comprise the team score.

Alabama's squad is:

Stephanie Meadow, senior from Jordanstown, Northern Ireland; Emma Talley, sophomore from Princeton, Ky.; Cammie Gray, freshman from Northport; Janie Jackson, sophomore from Huntsville; and Mia Landegren, freshman from Bridgewater, Conn.

Potter noted that the five have never played together in a tournament for Alabama.

A few of those in the lineup were automatics based on their careers, while a couple earned their ways onto the national championship competing squad.

"We had one qualifier right after SECs, 54 holes," Potter said. "Whoever won was going to the tournament. Cammie Gray beat Stephanie in a playoff to win that spot. Obviously we were going to take Stephanie and Emma. Janie Jackson is a really nice player. Her consistency is getting a lot better. She is so long and explosive you have to have her in one spot.

"So it came down to one spot. We played 54 more holes. We looked at their resumés not only in the spring, but kind of favoring proximity to the time of the tournament, but going back through college career. The kind of golf course we were going to play, what their strengths are. The 54 holes we played Mia Landegren was great. She shot 2-over at Shoal Creek the first time she saw it. Even par yesterday so only three over for the 54 holes. Played Shoal Creek, Indian Hills, and NorthRiver. And also shot 1-under at Ol' Colony in the previous qualifier which was the lowest round we had that day.

"She plays on the Swedish Junior National Team, so she has some tournament experience. She's a perfect example of someone who has improved a lot since she got her and has made herself and it's almost impossible to not put her in the lineup."

Alabama being a four seed in the regional is disappointing based on recent Bama success, including the 2012 NCAA Championship, but also encouraging for Potter.

"I think we've been a number one seed for two or three years in a row," the Tide coach said. "I was actually a little surprised that we were a three because I kind of had us pegged for a four. But we had a good win in Wilmington (Landfall Traditional in Wilmington, N.C.) at the end of the fall season and have had some wins against some good teams. It's just that we having been winning tournaments, and that's what we set out to do each time, so that's a little disappointing.

"But it's all about the post-season. We've played a lot of players. Typically we've got a set lineup when we enter the spring season, but we've so many good players and we had some girls making swing changes and wanted to give everybody a chance to play and see what they could do and see who was willing to work hard and get better. and that's where we are now."

Although the top eight teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament, Potter said, "We really need to think in terms of being in the top four so you're in the same side of the draw as the top seeds when you go to the national championship. I think teams have won from the other side of the draw, but it's usually from the top four seeds at the regionals. So it's a good place to be. But don't get me wrong. If we're five through eight we'll take it."

Alabama is nearing the end of the Stephanie Meadow era. Meadow was the SEC Player of the Year and SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Potter said, "I really hate top see her go score-wise, of course. She's dependable. You can always count on her. She's consistent. She also brings a lot to the table in terms of being a good teammate, leading by example, has a great practice ethic, and organization that you would want your freshmen to pick up on. And sets a great example in the classroom as a 4.0 student in accounting. By definition of the term ‘Student-athlete' you couldn't ask for anything more."

Since Potter's arrival at The Capstone prior to the 2005-06 season, the Crimson Tide has qualified for the NCAA Regionals each season and advanced to the NCAA Championships eight consecutive years. The 2014 selection is the 16th NCAA appearance in school history.

For Potter, the regional berth marks the 21st consecutive appearance by a team under his direction. The Hall of Fame coach has now led a team to a regional bid in each season since the format came into existence in 1993. Joining Alabama in the NCAA Central Regional is No. 1-seed UCLA, No. 2 Arkansas, No. 4-seed Arizona, No. 5 LSU and No. 6 seed and host Oklahoma State.

Along with the Crimson Tide, Razorbacks and LSU Tigers, the 24-team NCAA Central Regional boasts two other SEC foes, including Florida (No. 6 seed and Mississippi State (No. 11 seed). The remainder of the region includes No. 8 North Carolina, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 10 Miami (Fla.), No. 12 California, No. 13 Kent State, No. 14 Kansas, No. 15 Texas, No. 16 UNLV, No. 17 Colorado, No. 18 SMU, No. 19 Minnesota, No. 20 Harvard, No. 21 Lamar, No. 22 Wichita State, No. 23 LIU-Brooklyn and No. 24 Siena.

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