Women's Golf Ready for NCAA Championships
May 20, 2013
SETTING THE SCENE
LET'S GET IT STARTED
MSU IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
MSU's highest finish at the NCAA Championships arrived in 2001, when the Spartans tied for 12th. The Spartans placed 20th at last year's NCAA Championships at the Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. MSU carded a four-round total of 1201, which was the lowest-team score in program history at nationals.
ABOUT THE SPARTANS
Needing a top-eight finish in the 24-team NCAA Central Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships, the ninth-seeded Spartans edged out eighth-seeded North Carolina State by one stroke and fourth-seeded Washington by two strokes for the eighth and final spot to nationals. MSU finished at 20-over 884 (291-301-292) in the 54-hole tournament, securing the program's 11th trip to the NCAA Championships; it marked the lowest NCAA Regional score in school history.
The Spartans fell just short in their quest for a three-peat at the Big Ten Championships, as they placed five strokes behind co-champions Northwestern and Purdue. MSU has placed in at least the top-three at the Big Ten Championships for 10 straight years. Three Spartans placed in the top five on the individual leaderboard: Powers (second), Meier (third) and Ferrell (fifth). All three were named to the All-Championships Team.
In its last tournament of the regular season, MSU won the Lady Buckeye Invitational by seven shots over Purdue, marking head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll's 31st tournament victory since taking over the program in 1997.
Michigan State also placed second at the Mary Fossum Invitational in September in East Lansing, and third at both the Mason Rudolph Championship (Sept. 21-23) at the Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., and the Central District Invitational (Feb. 18-19) at the River Wilderness Country Club in Parrish, Fla.
HEAD COACH Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll
MSU has won 31 tournaments during Slobodnik-Stoll's tenure, and over the last 16 years, her players have earned All-Big Ten honors 36 times, including 22 first-team selections. She was named the 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year, marking the third time in her career she was won the award (2001, 2007).
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
In addition, since the inception of the conference championships in 1974, only Ohio State (14) has won more league titles than the Spartans (10). MSU won five consecutive Big Ten titles from 1974-78, and also won conference crowns in 1982, 2001, 2007, 2011 and 2012. In the Big Ten record books, MSU is credited with five Big Ten Championships, as the conference did not officially sanction women's sports until 1982.
UGA A FAMILIAR COURSE
"I love this course and I think all the other girls do too, so that's a really good thing to go into the tournament," said Powers. "Already liking the course and knowing about it, when we go for the practice round it's not going to be to see it for the first time, it's just going to be to see how the conditions are. I know they're going to make it firm and fast, but that's something that we all like, so we're just really looking forward to it and hope we can post some good numbers."
Caroline Powers: BIG TEN GOLFER OF THE YEAR
Powers finished runner-up at the Big Ten Championships with a 3-over 219 and was named to the All-Championships Team for the third straight year. The three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection is ranked No. 30 in the nation by Golfweek and had the highest Golfweek/Sagarin rating in Big Ten competition with a 72.11.
Powers tied for first place at the Central District Invitational on Feb. 19 in Parrish, Fla., and also placed second at the Mary Fossum Invitational and the Mason Rudolph Championship in the fall. She leads the team in birdies (81) and has shot under-par in six rounds this season.
The Bowling Green, Ohio, native has been named Big Ten Golfer of the Week three times this season and six times in her career, which is third most in conference history.
With a career scoring average of 74.23, Powers is on pace to own the lowest average in school history (Laura Kueny, 74.60). She has placed in the top five in 14 career tournaments and in the top 10 on 21 occasions, including three tournament victories (2011 Lady Buckeye Invitational, 2011 Mary Fossum Invitational, 2012 Central District Invitational).
Powers also has the top-three season averages in school history (MSU record 73.53 in 2010-11; 73.61 this season; 73.78 in 2012-13). She placed sixth at the 2011 NCAA Championships, the highest ever by a Spartan at nationals, and is the third Spartan to be named the Big Ten Golfer of the Year (Emily Bastel, 2002; Kueny, 2010).
"It's different from every other tournament," Powers said of playing in the NCAA Championships. "I think it's kind of like in other sports, when you get to the postseason and there's a little bit more hype with it, it's kind of the same thing. It's the last one of the year so we'll go all out, see what happens and hope that we can achieve our goals.
"It's just so fun and it's the best of the best. It's fun to stack yourself up against them and see how it goes. At the end of the day, we're still playing golf and we know how to do that and we know how to make birdies, so hopefully we can get four good scores every day."
POWERS QUALIFIES FOR U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
The 2013 U.S. Women's Open will take place June 27-30 at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. The last Spartan to play in the U.S. Women's Open was current junior Christine Meier, who qualified for the tournament last year. Former Spartan All-American(Laura Kueny played in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.
Liz Nagel: "SPARTAN STRONG" WHILE BATTLING CANCER
Nagel's round of 68 tied for the second-lowest single round in MSU history. Overall, Nagel led MSU at the NCAA Central Regional with a 1-over 217, which tied for 11th place.
The two lowest rounds of Nagel's career have arrived in the clutch - in addition to her 68 in this year's NCAA Central Regional that helped propel the Spartans to the NCAA Championships, she carded a 69 in the third round of last year's NCAA East Regional to push MSU into a tie for sixth place and a trip to nationals.
Nagel placed a career-best third on April 21 at the Lady Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, Ohio.
Nagel's spring is even more remarkable considering the fact that she's currently battling thyroid cancer. The native of DeWitt, Mich., was diagnosed with cancer in November and had surgery in late December. Nagel missed the first tournament of the spring season at the Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif., in mid-February, but has been in the starting lineup ever since, all while undergoing treatments.
Nagel uses the phrase "Spartan Strong" to inspire herself and her teammates during her fight against cancer.
Allyssa Ferrell HITTING HER STRIDE
The second-team All-Big Ten selection ranks second on the team in scoring average (75.57), birdies (66) and sub-par rounds (4). Ferrell carded the second-lowest single round of the year for the Spartans with a 3-under 69 in the second round of the Mary Fossum Invitational on Sept. 15.
Ferrell tallied the lowest postseason round of her career with a 72 in the first round of the NCAA Central Regional.
Christine Meier PLACES THIRD AT BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Meier was third on the team at the NCAA Central Regional with a 7-over 223 to tie for 42nd. The Rochester Hills, Mich., native tied for ninth in the first tournament of the season at the Mary Fossum Invitational in September, and also delivered a top-20 showing with an 18th-place finish at the Lady Buckeye Invitational. Meier, who qualified for last year's U.S. Women's Open, ranks third on the team with 53 birdies.
WITHERBY MAKING HER NCAA DEBUT
Witherby tied for 26th in her first showing at the Big Ten Championships with a 230, and her final round of 73 tied for the second-lowest round of the day for MSU. At the NCAA Central Regional, Witherby counted toward the team score in the third round with a 2-over 74. She carded a 233 for the tournament.
SPARTANS QUALIFY FOR NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS IN DRAMATIC FASHION
Needing a top-eight finish in the 24-team regional, the ninth-seeded Spartans edged out eighth-seeded North Carolina State by one stroke and fourth-seeded Washington by two strokes for the eighth and final spot to nationals.
MSU, which began the third round in a tie for ninth place, shot a 4-over-par 292 on the last day to finish at 20-over 884 (291-301-292) in the 54-hole tournament, securing the program's 11th trip to the NCAA Championships.
"I think the team was very motivated after not winning the Big Ten Championships," said Slobodnik-Stoll, as MSU's score of 884 was the lowest ever by a Spartan team at NCAA Regionals. "I think we're in a good place. It's exciting to have a chance to compete for a national championship and try and reach our goal of finishing in the top 10 at nationals, which would be the best Michigan State has ever done."
Junior Liz Nagel led the way with a career-low 68 (-4), which also marked the second-lowest single-round score in Michigan State history. Nagel tallied three birdies and an eagle in her round as she finished tied for 11th overall at 1-over 217 (72-77-68).
The Spartans teed off at 8:30 a.m. ET and were in 10th place most of the round, but rallied down the stretch to put themselves in position for a top-eight finish. Over the final six holes, Michigan State carded a team score of 2-under-par to push past North Carolina State and Coastal Carolina.
On the final hole of the day for MSU at the par-5 18th, all four counting scores shot par; for NC State's final hole at No. 9, the Wolfpack compiled a 1-over-par. Caroline Powers wrapped up MSU's round with a 10-footer to save par, while Augusta James, the final player to shoot for NC State, carded a 5 on the par-4 ninth to give MSU the one-shot advantage.
Then the waiting game began. With the other half of the field teeing off in the afternoon, the Spartans had to see if their score of 884 would hold up for eighth place.
The main threat was fourth-seeded and No. 10 Washington, who began the day tied for 15th but charged up the leaderboard with a strong final round. The Huskies sat at 3-under-par for the third round, just two shots back of Michigan State, when a weather delay started at 5:42 p.m. ET. Washington still had two players left on the course with a combined four holes to play with the delay began.
After a nearly two-hour delay, UW's Ying Lou birdied her final hole to finish with a 68, but SooBin Kim went 1-over through holes 7-9, and the two-stroke margin remained the same. Lou finished tied for eighth overall and Kim tied with Nagel and three others for 11th. Washington finished with the third-lowest team score of the day at 285, but it wasn't enough to reach the NCAA Championships.
Overall on the individual leaderboard, Powers tied for 26th with a 4-over 220 (73-72-75) and Meier tied for 42nd with a 7-over 223 (74-74-75). Allyssa Ferrell closed at 228 (72-78-78) to tie for 73rd and Witherby tied for 93th at 233 (75-84-74).
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