The UC Davis women’s golf team entered the NCAA Central Regional round at the University of Oklahoma as the sixth highest-ranked team in the field. The Aggies played to their seed, placing sixth at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Seeing that the top eight teams advance to the NCAA Finals, UC Davis grabbed a berth to the NCAA Division I Championship round that will be held in Athens, Ga. on May 21 to 24.
The Aggies shot a 16-over 880 total as a team over the three rounds. Duke, the third-ranked team in the nation, dominated the competition with a 13-under 851 team score.
Despite a small hiccup in the second round in which UC Davis shot a 300, the Aggies held tight and came back to fire a one-over 289 in the final round. Still, almost every team posted a higher score on the second round, keeping the Aggies in the top six.
Freshman Betty Chen led the Aggies with her blistering 69 in the final round. Senior Demi Runas shot an even 72 on the last day and freshman Andrea Wong put up a two-over 74. Sophomore Beverly Vatananugulkit also shot a 74 in the final round to close for the Aggies.
Chen closed in at 11th place overall, having put up 73 and 75 scores in the first and second round, respectively. Runas finished one stroke behind Chen with her 218 total, highlighted by her two-under 70 on the second round when the Aggies needed a low score.
Wong placed in a tie for 35th on her 222 score while Vatananugulkit put up a 223 total, having shot a 69 on the first day and a 74 on the last despite a high 80 in the second round.
The Aggies’ team total was two strokes behind Arizona State, which put up an 878 total, and three strokes under Wisconsin, which shot a 19-over 883.
The other teams from the Central Regional to qualify for the national tournament were fourth-ranked host Oklahoma, Florida, Mississippi State and Michigan State. UC Davis was the only school from California in the Central Regional, but will be joined by UCLA from the East Regional and USC, Stanford and San Jose State from the West Regional at the national round.
UC Davis outplaced tenth-ranked Washington, who placed 10th and will not be advancing to the national round. Mississippi State came in unseeded but still fired an eight-over to place third, mostly due to a 281 on the final day, the second-lowest round of any team in the competition.
“It was a great team effort, especially coming down the final holes,” said head coach Anna Temple. “We have worked hard to have an opportunity to compete for an NCAA championship and we are looking forward to our trip to Athens next week.”
Moving forward, UC Davis will appear in its third NCAA Division I Finals in its six years since moving up from Division II.
The Aggies will play on the University of Georgia Golf Course and will be joined by 23 other teams. Eight teams from the East and West regional will advance, which Alabama and USC won, respectively.
The Trojans are the top-ranked team in the country and pulled out a victory at the Stanford golf course, while Alabama, the second-ranked team in the country, posted an unbelievable 20-under at Auburn University Golf Club.
Also in the field will be Stanford and Anne Walker, the former women’s golf coach from UC Davis.
The Aggies will play in a practice round on May 19 before jumping into competition on May 21. UC Davis is paired up with Northwestern and Arizona with a tee-time of 8:39 a.m. ET at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.