Spartans Qualify for NCAA Championships With Third-Place Finish at the NCAA Athens Regional
MSU ties for its best finish ever at an NCAA regional.
ATHENS, Georgia - With a third-place finish at the NCAA Athens Regional, the Michigan State women's golf team has advanced to the 2017 NCAA National Championships. The Spartans shot a 3-over-par 291 in Wednesday's final round and finished the tournament 8-over-par 872 (284-297-291), marking the program's lowest score at an NCAA regional. The third-place finish is also tied for the Spartans' best at an NCAA regional.
"We played great and were in a comfortable position all day," MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. "It was a nice day and we had enough players playing solid golf that we just needed to stay where we were to get to the national championships."
Third-ranked Alabama won the regional with a 7-under-par 857 at the University of Georgia Golf Course. Northwestern (7-over-par 871), Baylor (13-over-par 877), Clemson (20-over-par 884) and North Carolina (22-over-par 886) earned the region's four remaining automatic qualifiers for the national championships by finishing in the top six.
The top six teams from each of the four regionals (Athens; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Columbus, Ohio; and Lubbock, Texas) qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
After being ranked 97th following the fall season, the Big Ten champion Spartans had an outstanding spring and have finished in the top five in each of their last four tournaments. The Spartans will be returning to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2014 and will be making their 11th appearance in the last 17 years.
"I've never coached a team that did what we did this year in jumping over 70 spots in the rankings," Slobodnik-Stoll said. "The turnaround has been phenomenal and we have the ability to do some things at the national championships. It's a wonderful group that's fun to be around and we're excited to get to nationals."
Freshman Paz Marfa Sans led all Spartans in the NCAA Athens Regional by finishing with an even-par 216 (71-74-71) to take 10th place. The finish was the best of her career and it was the first time since the opening tournament of the season that she has been the Spartans' top-placing golfer.
Marfa Sans carded her second 1-under-par 71 of the tournament on Wednesday. She ended the day by birdying three of the final four holes.
"I'm so happy for her because she works so hard," Slobodnik-Stoll said. "Paz wasn't where wanted she wanted to be in September and has really progressed over the season. Things are coming together for her and she's a lot more confident and happier. It's awesome to see the progress."
Fellow freshman Allyson Geer tied Marfa Sans for the Spartans' low round of the day with a 1-under-par 71. A bogey on the 17th hole broke Geer's string of seven consecutive pars, but she birdied the 18th to record the fourth-lowest round of day by any golfer.
Geer was 9-over-par 225 (74-80-71) for the tournament and finished in a tie for 37th place.
Junior Sarah Burnham tied for 15th at 2-over-par 218 (69-73-76). Her 4-over-par 76 on Wednesday was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole.
Junior Katie Sharp gave MSU three players in the top 20 as she finished 4-over-par 220 (70-72-78) to take 19th place. Sharp carded a 6-over-par 78 in the third round.
Sophomore Carolyn Markley had her best round of the tournament on Wednesday with a 1-over-par 73. She finished the tournament 11-over-par 227 (76-78-73).
The Spartans finished ahead of five teams ranked in the nation's top 25 in the 18-team Athens Regional.