Although her team did not qualify, Wisconsin's Malinda Johnson was the first individual picked for the NCAA Central Regional. Illinois State The regional, hosted by Illinois State, takes place at University Golf Course in Normal, Ill., May 6-8. It is one of three NCAA Regionals, which include a total of 63 teams and nine additional individuals.
It will be Johnson's third regional experience. Last year she placed third individually with a 54-hole total 219, participating as a member of the Badger team. She placed fifth with a 226 when the Wisconsin team played at the 2002 Central Regional.
The top eight teams and the top two individuals not part of a team will advance to the NCAA Division I Championship at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala., May 18-21.
Johnson has one NCAA Championship experience to her credit. Last season she led Wisconsin with a 72-hole total 310 and finished tied for 55th. That was the only time Wisconsin's team qualified for the NCAA Championship.
This is the eighth year that a Badger team or individual has qualified for NCAA Regional play. Katie Connelly became Wisconsin's first NCAA Regional medalist when she won the Central Regional last year with a 217.
Despite playing with an injury during the last month, the lone Badger senior is on pace to break her own school-record 18-hole scoring average. She is currently averaging 74.2 strokes per round.
Johnson earned first-team All-Big Ten honors this season after finishing fourth in the 72-hole Big Ten Championship, which concluded Sunday.
Johnson ranks at or near the top in a number of Wisconsin records:
18-hole low: 1st (66), tied 2nd twice (69)
36-hole low: T4th (144)
54-hole low: T2nd (216)
72-hole low: T1st (296)
Season Avg.^: 1st (74.20)
Career Avg.*: 1st (76.20)
^Set to break her own current record of 75.94 (02-03)
*Set to break current record of 77.48