Amanda Mathis Received Unexpected Call

Mississippi State golfer Amanda Mathis wasn't waiting around for a call. Heck, she even forgot that the NCAA was making its selections on Monday, awarding three at-large invitations to the NCAA East Regional at the University Club, LSU's home course. So it was safe to say that Mathis was surprised to find out she will play in her third straight NCAA Regional.

"I was very shocked that I made it," said Mathis. "I had forgotten that they did the selections on Monday and when I got in, I saw I had a missed call from Coach Sanders. I called her back and she said 'Congratulations', and I said 'for what'.

"So yes, I was totally surprised. I played well my last two or three tournaments but I did not have a good fall. So I didn't think my chances were very good."

After enduring struggles in the fall campaign, the Picayune native caught fire at the end of the spring session. In her last three tournaments, Mathis finished in the Top 20, including a second-place finish at LSU and more recently, a tie for 14th place in the SEC Championships that were hosted by State at Old Waverly.

"I was just working hard on my short game," said Mathis of her late-season surge. "When I was at LSU, I really concentrated on putting and I got up and down very good despite not hitting many greens."

And Mathis now finds her self back at the LSU course with much higher stakes involved.

However, it is a course that Mathis has always performed well on, which includes a school-record low round of 67 two years ago.

"She knows the course so well and is confident at LSU," said Mississippi State women's golf coach Christi Sanders. "She is familiar with the course and when she finished second there this season, there were a lot of great teams competing in that tournament. Hopefully she can use that experience and have a good shot at nationals."

And Mathis agrees with her coach.

"To me, it's a longer course and sets up good for my game," Mathis said of the LSU course. "Every time I played there except my freshman year, I always seem to make a lot of birdies. And there are a lot of good birdie opportunities on the course.

"I know every hole so well and know what shot to take. It will just come down to doing it at that moment."

As a sophomore and junior, Mathis competed in a NCAA Regional albeit with the rest of her teammates. But this will be a different situation for Mathis when she tees off in her opening round of the NCAA East Regional on Thursday.

"It is going to be strange playing without the team there and just having coach with me," said Mathis. "That will be a first for me in college. It was sad that our team did not make it but my teammates are happy for me and I am excited about this opportunity.

"I was very disappointed with my last round at Old Waverly (in the SEC Championships), shooting a 75 and was two-over in my last four holes. But now that is not my last college round and I have another chance to shoot lower scores on my college record."

Mathis is one of three individual golfers that advanced to postseason play despite their team not qualifying for the NCAA Regional. And according to Sanders, it is a much tougher row to hoe.

"It is very hard to make it on your own as an individual," said Sanders. "They factor in so many things, things like win/loss record, common opponents record, how you finish and stroke average and so many things.

"There are a lot of good golfers that did not make it. So that says a lot about Amanda's abilities."

And her off-the-course abilities were on display this past Saturday when Mathis graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in public relations.

Mathis plans to purse a golf career at the next level, and she's anxiously awaiting her opportunity to jumpstart a professional golf career.

"I have already played in the Future's Qualifying school so I have status on the Futures Tour," said Mathis of her future career. "I am going to play as many tournaments as I can, turn pro and hopefully go make some money.

"But I will see how I stack up and just take it day by day and go from there."

Which is the same formula Mathis plans to use in the NCAA East Regional.

In order to advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held on May 22-25 in Daytona Beach, Fla., Mathis must be one of the top two finishers not already advancing in part to their team scores finishing among the Top 8 teams.

Two years ago, Mathis was oh-so-close to making the NCAA Championships, shooting a three-round total of 221 and a 19th-place tie. However, on one of the final holes, Mathis had to settle for a double-bogey on a par 3 after a little bit of bad luck.

But Mathis doesn't intend to worry about what happened two years ago. In fact, she wants to think nothing but positive thoughts as her collegiate career comes to an end.

"It was one of those things where you just have to laugh," said Mathis of just missing the nationals two years ago. "I shot a 6-iron and it went 185 yards and I have never done that since. I just flew the green. It might have made a different if I had made it.

"But I choose not to look at the negative things in life and not worry about it. I just want to go have fun and it's a win-win situation. I want to make nationals and represent my school. But if not, then it won't be my last golf tournament."

Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at

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