Spartans Set to Compete in NCAA Athens Regional
The Big Ten champion Spartans are have won each of their last two tournaments.
|2017 NCAA Athens Regional|
|Dates||Monday-Wednesday, May 8-10|
|Golf Course||University of Georgia Golf Course | Par: 72 | Yardage: 6,344|
|Notes||Complete Release (PDF)|
|Teams||1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Northwestern, 4. Arizona, 5. Baylor, 6. Wake Forest, 7. UCF, 8. Tennessee, 9. North Carolina, 10. Clemson, 11. Augusta, 12. Auburn, 13. Kansas State, 14. Michigan State, 15. Troy, 16. Princeton, 17. North Florida, 18. Quinnipiac (listed in order of seeds)|
|NCAA Regional Information||Athens Regional Website|
|Postseason History||Spartan Postseason History|
The Michigan State women’s golf team is making its 18th NCAA Regionals appearance in the last 19 years, as the Spartans will take part in the Athens regional, Monday - Wednesday (May 8-10). The Spartans are seeded 14th in the 18-team regional, which is being played at the par-72, 6,344-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.
Action will get underway beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. A list of updated tee times will be posted to Golfstat.com on Sunday.
The Postseason Format
The NCAA Women’s Golf Championships begin with four regional sites, each containing 18 teams. In addition to Athens, the other sites include Albuquerque, New Mexico, Columbus, Ohio, and Lubbock, Texas. The top six teams, and top-three individuals not from a qualifying team, from each regional will advance to the national championships. The NCAA Championships will take place May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
The Spartans will go with juniors Sarah Burnham and Katie Sharp; sophomore Carolyn Markley; and freshmen Allyson Geer and Paz Marfa Sans. It marks the seventh consecutive tournament – each one in the calendar year – that these five are in the MSU lineup.
The five players have helped MSU to five consecutive top-six finishes, including consecutive wins in each of the Spartans’ last two tournaments.
Back Atop The B1G
Michigan State captured its fourth Big Ten Championship in the last seven years, winning the 2017 title at TPC River’s Bend in Maineville, Ohio, April 21-23. The Spartans rallied from an eight-stroke deficit entering the final round to top 12th-ranked Northwestern by two strokes with a 2-over-par 866.
The Spartans’ Big Ten title is the sixth under head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll (2001, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017).
The Spartans placed three golfers in the top five, led by Sarah Burnham, who was the runner-up. She fired a school and Big Ten Championships record 9-under-par 63 in the second round and ended the tournament 5-under-par 211 (73-63-75).
Burnham Having a Record Year…Again
A year after setting MSU’s single-season scoring average record (72.42) and earning WGCA honorable mention All-America team accolades, junior Sarah Burnham is back amongst the nation’s best. The Big Ten Player of the Year is ranked 37th in the Golfweek collegiate individual rankings and boasts a 72.17 scoring average. She has finished as the runner-up in each of the Spartans’ last two tournaments (Lady Buckeye Invitational and Big Ten Championships) and three times total this season.
Entering NCAA regional play, the native of Maple Grove, Minnesota, has carded a 73 or lower in eight of her last nine rounds. Burnham shot an MSU and Big Ten Championships record 9-under-par 63 in the second round of the conference tournament, tying for the second-lowest round in NCAA women’s golf this season. The round included 11 birdies, with six in a row at one point on the front nine, and one double bogey.
Burnham leads the Spartans in total birdies (95), birdies per round (3.28) and under-par rounds (10).
Geer Gives Spartans a Major Lift
Since enrolling and joining the Spartans in January, freshman Allyson Geer has provided Michigan State with an immediate boost. Geer was voted the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the first Spartan to garner the honor since 2003.
Geer, who was ranked the No. 1 Michigan junior golfer since 2013, was in the lineup for all six tournaments in 2017 and earned her first top-15 finish at the Clemson Invitational with a 1-over-par 217. The Brighton, Michigan, native followed that with a top-five showing at the Lady Buckeye Invitational. Geer had her best tournament of the year at the Big Ten Championships with an even-par 216, including 2-under 70 in the final round, to take fourth place.
Her 73.44 scoring average is second only to Burnham on the team. She posted the best Golfweek/Sagarin Big Ten player rating among conference freshmen (72.77).
Geer recorded the first hole-in-one by a Spartan since 2008 when she achieved the feat in the second round of the Briar’s Creek Invitational in Johns Island, South Carolina, on March 20.
MSU’s NCAA Regional History
The Spartans are making their 18th NCAA regional appearance (1999-2014; 2016-17), all of which have come during head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll’s 20 seasons at the helm of the program. The Spartans have twice placed third at the NCAA Regionals, in 2001 and 2004. The best individual finish came in 2012 when Lindsey Solberg tied for third. MSU has advanced to the NCAA Championships 10 times since 2000, most recently in 2014.
Three Spartans With Regional Experience
Three of the five Spartans in this weekend’s lineup appeared in last year’s NCAA Stanford Regional – Sarah Burnham, Katie Sharp and Carolyn Markley. Burnham shot a 1-under 215 to tie for ninth place and earned a bid to the NCAA Championships. Sharp fired a 228 and Markley a 229 last year at the Stanford regional.
Head Coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll
Big Ten Coach of the Year Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll is in her 20th year guiding MSU program. She has led MSU to six Big Ten titles (2001, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017), 10 trips to the NCAA Championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014), and 18 appearances in the NCAA Regionals (1999-2014, 2016-17).
MSU has won 35 tournaments during Slobodnik-Stoll’s tenure, and over the last 18 years, her players have earned All-Big Ten honors 43 times, including 27 first-team selections. Here most recent Big Ten Coach of the Year honor was the fourth of her career (2001, 2007, 2012).
Slobodnik-Stoll, who will be enshrined in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in June, has mentored four Big Ten Golfers of the Year: Emily Bastel (2002), Laura Kueny (2010), Caroline Powers (2013) and Sarah Burnham (2017). Bastel was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class in 2012, while Kueny and Powers are currently playing on the Symetra Tour.
Model of Consistency
The Michigan State women’s golf program has appeared in 18 of the past 19 NCAA Regionals (1999-2014; 2016-17) and has earned a berth in the NCAA Championships 10 times since 2000 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014).
In addition, since the inception of the conference championships in 1974, only Ohio State (17) has won more league titles than the Spartans (12). MSU won five consecutive Big Ten titles from 1974-78, and has won conference crowns in 1982, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2017.
Academic Excellence Continues
The Spartans’ excellence on the course under Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll has been matched only by their consistency in quality in the classroom. The Spartans have won the MSU Athletic Director’s Award for highest team cumulative GPA for six consecutive seasons, doing so again this year after posting a department-best 3.561 cumulative GPA following the 2016 fall semester.
The Last Time MSU Was in Athens...
Michigan State has a history at the University of Georgia Golf Course, having played there several times during head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll’s tenure. Most recently, the Spartans recorded their best finish in school history there in 2013, placing ninth at the NCAA Championships, led by current assistant coach Caroline Powers. Prior to that, the Spartans played in the Liz Murphey Invitational in 2012 at the UGA Golf Course.