Nakashima NCAA Championship Notebook

On an Idaho team loaded with young talent, Idaho junior Kelly Nakashima helped lead the Vandal women's golf team to their first WAC Championship. Idaho followed that up with a 12th place finish at the NCAA West Regionals, led by Nakashima who finished tied for 15th individually which qualified her to compete at this week's National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida (UPDATED 5-25-07).

It's been a stellar season for the Idaho women's golf team this season. Believed by many going into the season to be one of the best teams ever assembled at Idaho, this year's Vandals did not disappoint.

The team is led by the powerful one-two punch of juniors Kelly Nakashima and Renee Skidmore, both of whom proved to be among the best in the Western Athletic Conference this season.

Kelly Nakashima
Baldwin High School
(Wailuku, Hawaii)

Tied one school record and set another in finishing second (after a playoff for first) at UNLV Rebel Spring Invitational; had closing round 65 to tie UI record and had 54-hole total 205 to set the UI tournament record; 2nd Team All-WAC; 12th at NCAA West Regionals; qualified for NCAA Championships

Had two top-10 and three top-25 finishes in five outings ... Tied for 16th at San Jose Spartan Invitational with 157 ... Tied for 11th at Oregon Duck Invitational as Vandals finished third ... Tied for 21st at Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

Finished first collegiate season with six top-25 finishes ... Low round of 72 at Mountain View Collegiate ... Best outing was 11th at Big West Championship ... Academic All-American.

2004 Callaway Hawai‘i State Junior Champion ... Member of Team Hawai‘i for the Junior America's Cup ... Three-time Maui Interscholastic League first-team all-state (2002, 2003 and 2004) ... Baldwin High School Most Outstanding Female Golfer for four years.

Nakashima in particular put together a season worthy of her trip to the NCAA Championships this week...the first University of Idaho female golfer ever to qualify for the event.

This year she led the team with a victory in the Inland Empire Intercollegiate (hosted by Idaho) and a runner-up finish (after a playoff for first) at the UNLV Spring Rebel Invitational. At that tournament she had a closing round 65 to tie a UI record, and she also had a 54-hole total of 205 to set a new UI tournament record. She had six top-25 finishes and led the Vandals going into the WAC Championships with a stroke average of 75.56. At the WAC Championships this week she was tied for fifth going into the final day of competition, and finished with an impressive 12-over par 228 to take sole possession of eighth place overall. The effort earned her 2nd Team All-WAC honors for the 2007 season.

At the NCAA West Regionals, Nakashima had rounds of 74-73-75 to finish in a tie for 15th at 222 at Entrada at Snow Canyon. The top eight teams and the top two individuals who are not members of those teams qualified for the NCAA Championships. Although the Vandals finished 12th overall as a team, Kelly's gutsy performance (she battled a cold on the final day of competition) earned her one of the two individual invitations to Nationals.

Now she finds herself competing against the elite female golfers in the nation. Below is a day-by-day summary of her performance:

STANDINGS: 95th (tied)

Nakashima wrapped up the first round with an eight-over-par 80 (she made par on 12 of 18 holes), which puts her in a tie for 96th in the 126-player field. Her day started on the 10th hole at The Legends course at LPGA International. She bogeyed her first hole then doubled the second. After a par at the par-3 12th, she had another bogey before settling in with six successive pars. A bogey, then a double followed on holes two and three (her 11th and 12th) before she wrapped up the remaining holes with pars on all but her 15th hole.

Despite the rough first round, she is just five strokes out of the Top 25 with three rounds left to play.

"It's a four-round tournament," coach Brad Rickel said. "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

STANDINGS: 87th (tied)

Kelly shot a 6-over par 78 on Day 2 and improved to 87th in the overall standings. She recovered from a tough front nine (6-over) by shooting par on the back nine, including a birdie on the 11th hole (a hole that she double-bogied on the first day of competition). She moved into a seven-way tie with Py Bengtsson (New Mexico), Brooke Goodwin (Vanderbilt), Rhea Nair (Alabama), Megan O'Donnell (TCU), Maiya Tanaka (UCLA) and Alison Walshe (Arizona).

STANDINGS: 83rd (tied)

For the second day in a row Kelly shot a 6-over par 78, and continued her climb up the standings, improved to 83rd in the overall standings. She started the round on the 10th hole, and finished the back nine just 2-over par after hitting for birdie on the 16th hole. When she moved to the front nine to complete her round she had some struggles, including 3 bogeys on the final four holes. Regardless, her solid 78 helped her continue her climb up the standings, and she now is in a four-way tie at 83rd with Diana Cantu (Tennessee), Sara Djose (Denver), and Alexandra Phelps (New Mexico).

STANDINGS: 87th (tied)

Kelly completed a remarkably steady NCAA Tournament appearance by shooting a 6-over par 78 for the third consecutive day to finish with a 4-round, 26-over par 314 for the tournament. She started the day on the 10th hole of the course and was 4-over on 10-18. It appeared she might have her best round of the tournament as she was even through the first 6 holes of the front nine, then double bogeyed hole seven. She hit par on 8 and 9 to finish 6-over for the day. She finished her first appearance at the NCAAs tied with Mallory Hertzel (Georgia), Garrett Phillips (Georgia), and Helena Blomberg (Alabama).

Congratulations to Kelly once again on becoming the first Vandal women's golfer to qualify for the NCAA National Tournament.

T87 Kelly Nakashima 80 (+8) 78 78 78 314 (+26)


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- OFFICIAL University of Idaho Women's Golf website

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