Event: 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship
Where: Traditions Club – Bryan, Texas
When: Today through Saturday, all day
Who to watch: Seniors Alice Kim and Chelsea Stelzmiller are the two UC Davis players with NCAA finals experience.
They both played in the finals as freshmen in 2008, and their leadership will be key throughout the week, said coach Anne Walker.
“Alice and Chelsea are great leaders,” she said. “To have the experience they have … it’s a good combination.”
Did you know? The UC Davis women’s golf team, ranked 23rd in the nation, has been to the NCAA finals twice in the last four years.
Of the nearly 200 Division I women’s golf programs, only 24 advance to the Championship.
Preview: There is no greater stage in collegiate golf than the NCAA Golf Championship.
This week in Bryan, Texas the 24 best women’s golf teams in the nation will converge and UC Davis will be among them.
Joining seniors Kim and Stelzmiller in the Aggies’ starting line-up will be sophomores Demi Runas and Amy Simanton along with freshman Jessica Chulya.
This is the first trip to the finals for the three underclassmen and third-year coach Anne Walker. Walker expressed her team’s excitement heading into the tournament.
“Everyone is really fired up to go to nationals and be together and compete as a team,” Walker said.
If this group wants to set a UC Davis record and improve on their 21st-place finish in 2008, they will have to conquer a monster of a golf course.
The four-day, 72-hole stroke-play tournament will be played at The Traditions Club, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course that opened in 2004. At 6,260 yards and par 72, the course is comparable to ones used on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.
“It’s a real championship course,” Walker said. “It’s real tough.”
Adding to the difficulty will be the howling winds of southern Texas. The players have been told to expect sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph, with gusts reaching 25 mph.
To combat the wind, players will need a strong short game, as greens in regulation may be hard to come by.
“Even if your game is in tip-top condition you’re still going to miss some greens,” said Walker. “Two things that are really important are the ability to stick to your plan and stay emotionally grounded.”
Playing with and against the best players in the nation will put pressure on every shot for the UC Davis players.
“Once you get to championship level it’s all important, there’s not much room for error,” Walker said.
Regardless of the final results this weekend, it has been a fantastic year for this Aggie golf team.
“This is a really special team, they work really hard,” said the coach. “To make it to the finals is not to be taken for granted.
“We have to take it one shot at a time and hit the best golf shots that we can.”
CAELUM SHOVE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.