Alabama came into the start of NCAA Tournament play ranked first in the nation. The Crimson Tide didn’t play its best at the NCAA Regional at Shoal Creek in suburban Birmingham, but Bama played well enough to earn its 11th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship Tournament.
Alabama carded a final-round of 14-over par 302 to finish fourth at the NCAA Regional at Shoal Creek Saturday. The top six teams in the regional move on to the NCAA As a result, the Crimson Tide qualified for its 11th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Women’s Golf National Championship May 20-25 at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon.
Alabama (306-300-302/908) finished 21 shots behind first place Northwestern (296-294-297/887). Florida State finished second (299-297-309/905) followed by Oklahoma State (301-297-309/907), Alabama, Tennessee (300-311-301/912) and Michigan (311-305-300/916). Alabama’s 302 on Saturday was the fourth-lowest round of the day.
“It’s nice to know that even if we don’t play well, we can get through this and survive,” Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. “This definitely wasn’t our best golf. We hit a lot of poor shots relative to our ability and how we’ve played recently. Now this golf course will do that to you. You get a little anxiety and a little tension and it’s hard to make your swing.
“The harder the golf course, the more the cream is going to rise to the top,” Potter continued. “I don’t like to be in a regional where it’s a birdie-fest and everybody can make a bunch of birdies because you never know if your putter is going to get going. I want it to be a stern test and I want it difficult so when we go to the national championships in Eugene we’re not afraid of a difficult golf course.”
Senior Emma Talley fired a 1-over par 73 on Saturday to finish in a tie for seventh at 8-over par for the tournament (75-76-73/224). Freshman Cheyenne Knight finished in a tie for 15th (77-74-77/228). Sophomores Lakareber Abe (79-75-76/230) and Nicole Morales (78-75-77/230) tied for 24th. Senior Janie Jackson (76-80-76/232) tied for 36th.
“It was a rough day on the first day and the second day we just focused on the word patience,” Talley said after Saturday’s final round. “I think that word was in our minds today too. This course can eat you up but at the same time, if you stay patient you can fight it out. I think this was the best thing that could have happened for our team. We’ve had a really solid year but I think this will make us work harder and get ready for nationals.”
The appearance in Eugene will be Alabama’s 12th trip to the NCAA Championships and the 11th consecutive under Potter. In addition to seeking a second NCAA team title (Bama won in 2012), Talley will be defending the NCAA individual championship she won a year ago at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida. Talley became the first Alabama women’s golfer to win NCAA medalist honors with her victory last season.