Ramage Sparks Tigers To NCAA Regional Victory

Lubbock, Tex.--With senior Diana Ramage leading the charge, SEC champion Auburn pulled away from the field to win the NCAA Women's Golf Central Regional Tournament.

Ramage was the only golfer in the 21-team field who was able to tame The Rawls course, which gave the players trouble with windy conditions and tricky pin placements.

Ramage fired a tournament-best round of 67 on Saturday to help the Tigers qualify for the NCAA Women's Golf Championship scheduled for May 17-20 at the Sunriver resort in Oregon. Going into the final round, Auburn was in a four-way tie for first place with Missouri, Baylor and Texas A&M.

After an opening day 294 score followed by a 309 on Friday, the Tigers shot their best round of the event, a 293 on Saturday, to put themselves seven shots ahead of runnerup Texas A&M and nine ahead of Missouri.

Ramage finished at four-under-par 212 after rounds of 68, 77 and 67. Runnerup Louise Stahle of Arizona State finished seven strokes behind the Auburn senior at plus three 219.

"I kept it in play all day, but my putting was great today," Ramage told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I made a lot of putts."

Ramage notes that it was one of her best rounds as a college golfer. "I came out today not wanting it to be close for us going to nationals," she says. "I didn't want it to be my last round as a college golfer. Coming in, I made two birdies, but I played solid all day. When I could make birdies, I capitalized on my opportunities. If I had a close birdie putt, I didn't miss."

Ramage put together six birdies to go with just one bogey for her final round.

The Tigers followed the game plan set down going into the final round. Coach Kim Evans told them to concentrate on winning the tournament and not worry about the possibility of finishing out of the top eight and not qualifying for the nationals, a possibility with a bad final round because going into day three the majority of field was still in contention to qualify.

"We played really solidly," Evans says. "We started on 10 today and got off to a real good start. The backside is harder and it has three or four key holes. We just got off to a better start today than yesterday.

"We just kept playing solidly all day," the Auburn coach adds." Of course, Diana shot five-under and that takes care of about anything."

Evans says she is particularly pleased with Ramage, the fifth-year senior who took a medical hardship year in 2003-2004 due to a wrist injury. "It is so incredible, especially when she had to miss a year. She was the crowd favorite and did a great job--they all did today. Never at one time did it look like it (the tournament) was out of their hands. They just kept plugging away and plugging away and got the win."

Sophomore Nicole Hage was Auburn's number two finisher in the event. She had rounds of 74, 75 and 75 to post an eight-over-par 224.

Freshman Margaret Shirley had rounds of 74, 79 and 76 to finish at 229.

Maria Martinez

Junior Maria Martinez had her best score of the tournament on Saturday, a 75 to go with a pair of 78s. That put her at 231.

Sophomore Jessica Lovell shot 78, 85 and 80 for a total of 243.

The wind, which was unusually strong and gusty on Friday, lessened on Saturday and that helped the scoring, although it was far from calm, particularly early in Auburn's final round.

The Tigers, who were in fifth place after the first round of the event, will compete with the qualifiers from the East and West regionals May 17-20 in Bend, Oregon.

Evans says her team is excited about winning in a strong regional field and will hopefully take some momentum into the NCAA Championship. "We are ready to go," the coach says. "We are ready to go see what we can do."

NCAA Regional Results

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