Whether it’s heard at the Augusta National Golf Club in The Masters or on a miniature golf course, there’s an unmistakable sound that comes with a golf ball finding its way into the bottom of the cup.
As Alice Kim listened to her last ball rattle around in it’s plastic home just beneath the green, she couldn’t help but smile.
Checking in with a 2-under 69 in her final round at the NCAA Women’s Golf West Regional in Tempe, Ariz., Kim jumped up 11 spots to earn a spot in the finals on May 19 to 22.
The finals will be hosted by Georgetown at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.
Only two players in the 108-person field qualified with at-large berths, as the other slots are all reserved for the top eight teams in the country.
Kim picked up one of those berths along with Oregon’s Cathryn Bristow. Bristow edged out Miki Ueoka of Santa Clara in a sudden-death playoff.
Also competing in Tempe was Kim’s teammate Chelsea Stelzmiller. After struggling early on, Stelzmiller regained her poise to make an impressive 30-position climb to finish in 23rd place.
“Alice and Chelsea have been pillars of this program for the past two years,” coach Anne Walker said. “They deserve the recognition as two of the nation’s top players.“
The UC Davis duo played copycat in the first round at the Karsten Golf Course on Thursday, each falling back early with a double bogey. They rebounded nicely, though, recording a pair of 2-over 74s – good for a tie for 44th overall.
The start of the second round brought along a different story.
Kim jumped out to a great start, sinking birdies on both the par-4 fourth and par-3 seventh. Stelzmiller shot a 3-over 38 on the front nine.
The back nine proved to be difficult as both Aggies added a stroke to their scores. Stelzmiller finished with a 76, while Kim’s 71 put her in a tie for 19th to place her within striking distance of the individual leaders and the coveted trip to NCAA finals.
Kim was able to strike. The Diamond Bar High School graduate had her best round of the tournament when it mattered the most. She was at an even 40 heading into the 11th, where she recorded her first birdie of the day on the par-4, 363-yard hole.
It would be the first of three birdies for Kim, the final two of which came on the 17th and 18th to give her a 3-under 69.
Stelzmiller also put three birdies on the board on the back nine, matching Kim with a 69 of her own.
Host Arizona State earned the team title, shooting past its competitors to win by an impressive 19 strokes. USC and UC Irvine finished second and third, respectively.
MATT MILLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.