The NCAA Women’s Golf Championship gets started with a bang today. The nation’s top three teams are paired together in the championship tournament that is Friday through Wednesday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Alabama is one of 24 teams vying for the national championship after the Crimson Tide ran away with the NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga., last week, finishing 14 shots ahead of the second place team. Thus, Coach Mic Potter’s Bama team is making its 12th consecutive appearance and 13th in program history.
Alabama is ranked second in the nation in both the Golfstat and Golfweek rankings going into the tournament, although the polls have different No. 1 teams.
In the Golfstat rankings it is No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida, and those three teams go off together in Friday and Saturday rounds. UCLA and Florida State round out the top five. In the Golfweek rankings, it is No. 1 Arizona State, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4, UCLA, and No. 5 Florida.
(The NCAA men’s tournament, which includes Alabama, begins following the women’s tournament over the same course.)
Bama had a practice round over the 6,343-yard, par 72 Rich Harvest Farms course on Thursday.
“The whole key here is you have to play smart,” Alabama Coach Mic Potter said following the round. “You have to drive the ball into play no matter what club you hit off the tee. If you have to be conservative, that’s fine but you need to play from the fairway and control your distance into the greens. The rough is penal. You’re going to have grass between your club and the ball if you’re in there. The green speeds are very fair though and I think that rewards the best ball-strikers, which is all you can ask for.”
Sophomore Cheyenne Knight is the nation’s No. 3-ranked golfer in the latest Golfstat individual statistical rankings. Knight (70.00) is joined in the top 10 by two of her teammates; sophomore Lauren Stephenson (70.96) is fifth and freshman Kristen Gillman (71.11) is eighth. Knight (third), Gillman (sixth) and Stephenson (12th) are also among the leaders in the most recent Golfweek women’s rankings.