2003: Washington State’s fate: Bubble team NCAA-bound
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
It was not clear if the Washington State Cougars were going to get an invitation to even participate in the NCAA women’s regionals. After a dismal fall season, the Cougars, who had slipped to 92nd in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, clearly were a team on the bubble.
However, after a spring victory at the Oregon Duck Invitational, Washington State got the call April 28 to compete in the West Regional. Twenty-one teams competed May 8-10 at the Karsten Golf Course – a course none of the Cougar players had played – in hopes of placing in the top eight. Washington State proved it belonged. And now the Cougars have one more trip to make, to the NCAA Championship at Purdue (Regional results, page 26).
For many bubble teams, the regional is the last event of the year. Since the NCAA went to a three-regional format in 2001, only one time has a team seeded lower than 12th advanced to the finals – South Florida made it through the East Regional last year as the 18th-seeded team. Now add Washington State, seeded 17th in the West, to that list.
Washington State, whose lineup includes three sophomores and two freshmen, started hot with an opening 9-over 297, and followed with a 306 that placed the Cougars in seventh place entering the final day. A final-round 301 protected their position, sending Washington State to the finals for the first time in school history.
“Unbelievable . . . We talked about it all last week that we have a shot,” Washington State coach Walt Williams said. “We have the ability to shoot some low scores. We can shoot around 300, and if we do that, or a little below that on a long course like this, that’s going to be pretty good.”
The Cougars, led by sophomore Kim Welch’s tie for second place, went into the postseason ranked 62nd in the Golfweek rankings and were the lowest-ranked team in the postseason to receive an at-large bid. The rest of the West held form, with the top seven seeded teams advancing. Only No. 8 New Mexico State failed to advance.
Southern California opened with a Karsten Golf Course and school-record 9-under 279 and cruised to a 10-shot victory on the par-72, 6,256-yard Pete Dye design.
The Trojans, who entered the event ranked fifth, finished at 6-over 870. Oklahoma State placed second at 880.
Also advancing to the NCAA finals May 20-23 at Purdue’s Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind., were UCLA, Pepperdine, Arizona State, Ohio State and Stanford.
UNLV freshman Sunny Oh led from start to finish to win her first college tournament. Despite a
closing 73, Oh finished at 5-under 211 to win by two shots over Welch and Southern California’s Tanya Dergal.
“It feels great to win and advance, but we really wanted to qualify as a team,” Oh said. “I was nervous
coming down the stretch, but I am very happy with how I played.”
Washington junior Lindsay Morgan fired a 4-under 68 and tied for fourth to join Oh as the top two individuals to earn a trip to the finals.