Arizona State women’s golf coach Missy Farr-Kaye hopes her team learned from her experience when they competed in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate tournament in early spring.
This event, held in Hilton Head, South Carolina, was televised by the Golf Channel, so players had to get used to their every move being scrutinized. The Sun Devils finished third in this tournament with two individuals placing in the top six.
The atmosphere should be similar over the next six days as ASU’s No. 7 team faces 23 others in the NCAA Championship event that begins Friday at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.
This will be the 37th championship appearance and fifth straight for ASU who last won a title in 2017. The event did not take place in 2020 due to COVID.
“Our players have been lucky enough to see what it looks like when cameras track your every move and you walk down the fairway and you can hear them talking about you,” the veteran coach said. “It can be a little nerve-wracking if you’re not used to it.”
The Sun Devils are coming off a second-place finish to Baylor at the Stillwater, Oklahoma Regional. They finished third in the Pac-12 championship behind Stanford and Oregon, also the top two teams in the country.
Stanford is led by defending NCAA individual champion Rachel Heck, currently ranked third in the amateur world, but the sophomore Cardinal has battled a non-COVID illness.
The top five teams in the country are South Carolina, Wake Forest and San Jose State.
The event will consist of four rounds of move play, with the top eight advancing to the quarter-finals in match play on Tuesday.
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Last season, ASU was seventh, advancing to match play where it lost a quarter-final to Duke. Three of the five players who contributed to that finish are back, seniors Alexandra Fosterling and Alessandra Fanali, and second Ashley Menne. Menne, a homegrown Xavier Prep, placed fourth individually as a freshman, with her tournament highlighted by a 7-under 65 in the third round.
Rounding out this year’s lineup are freshmen Grace Summerhays and Calynne Rosholt. They have the unenviable task of replacing Olivia Mehaffey and Linn Grant, who are both now playing professionally.
Rosholt placed third in the Rucker Tournament, the team’s best result.
Farr-Kaye says the young players bring new enthusiasm.
“They’re talented, they’re tough and they just bring a different energy,” Farr-Kaye said. “I don’t think they see it as pressure. They’re like, ‘We’re going to win well.’ “
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Farr-Kaye downplays the pressure that comes with playing for the national championship. She said the pressure is more at the regional level where you have to rank high enough to advance, with ASU also having the option of hosting a national tournament that she didn’t qualify for.
Ten of the top 30 teams did not advance, the highest of which was No. 11 Florida. Others who did not advance were No. 23 Arizona as well as the champion reigning Mississippi national.
The coach said she would like to see her team at least make the match play rounds.
“I just think it’s a great experience and it’s different. It’s not a format we see a lot, so it would be great for our new players to experience that,” she said. “And that’s a whole other thing. Once you’re in match play, anything can happen.”
This is the second of three years the event has been hosted at Grayhawk. The men’s golf event begins two days after the women’s finish. Regional play for the men takes place this week with ASU currently ranked fourth nationally.
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NCAA Women’s Golf Championships
To place: Grayhawk Golf Club, Scottsdale
Appointment: Friday-Wednesday. Play starts at 6:30 a.m. on the first three days and 10 a.m. on Mondays
Format: There will be four rounds of stroke play and the field will be reduced to 15 teams after the third round. After the fourth, the field is reduced to eight for match play with the quarter-finals and semi-finals on Tuesday. The championship between the last two teams will take place on Wednesday.
reigning champion: Mississippi (Oklahoma State was a finalist)
Field teams: SECOND – Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt; Pac-12 – State of Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC; Big 12 – Baylor, State of Oklahoma, Texas, TCU; ACC – State of Florida, Virginia, Wake Forest; Big Ten – Michigan, northwest; West Mountain – State of San Jose
TV: Portions aired on Golf Channel
Other ratings: Among those who qualify as an individual is Emily Mahar of Virginia Tech, a product of Xavier Prep. She also participated in the event last year, with her team. Other individual qualifiers: Letizia Bagnoli, Florida Atlantic; Camryn Carreon, UTSA; Ruby Chou and Taglao Jeeravivitaporn, Iowa State; Marina Escobar, Florida; Jana Melichova, Former Dominion; Anna Morgan, Furman; Leila Raines, State of Michigan; Viera Permata Rosada, Sam Houston; Chiara Tamburlini, Mississippi; Natalia Yoko, Augusta.
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