TEMPE, Ariz. – For many of the 63 teams that earned a trip to NCAA regional play, that accomplishment alone is sufficient. However, after the season San Jose State has had, reaching the NCAA Championship is certainly the mission.
The Spartans, winners of the Western Athletic Conference and ranked 17th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, started slow at the NCAA West Regional at Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz. San Jose State posted an 11-over 299 and is tied for 13th place. The top eight teams will advance to the NCAA Championship May 19-22 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.
Leading the way is top-ranked Arizona State. The Sun Devils, playing on their home course, posted a course and school-record 15-under 273 to lead second-place Arizona, Texas, and Texas A&M by 15 shots.
“The conditions were absolutely perfect,” Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen said. “We took advantage of it.”
San Jose State coach John Dormann felt like his team also was playing well until their final hole. Finishing on the par-4, 352-yard ninth, Shraddhanjali Singh and Cristina Corpus each made a quadruple bogey.
“It’s just one of those things in golf and the wheels come off at the wrong time,” Dormann said.
For Dormann’s squad, the wheels have stayed on and turned well throughout the season. The Spartans worst tournament of the year came in the opener at Colorado State’s Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic where they finished fourth. Since then, it’s been nothing but first-place finishes – five tournament wins in a row and a pair of dual-match victories.
Dormann didn’t want to treat the West Regional any differently.
“It’s been very low key this week on purpose. Why put more into it than what it is?” Dormann said. “It’s another three days and everybody starts at zero. Our number one key this week has been patience.”
Patience and a few birdies. If conditions stay the same, red numbers may be needed for teams who have fallen behind early.
If there is one player for San Jose State that could lead the charge, it is the team’s lone senior, Erica Moston. Moston, who is having an All-American season, opened with a 1-over 73.
“I have been sick the past few days, but that did not have much to do with my round,” Moston said. “It took me a while to hit with my clubs. It was just a weird day, making little mistakes and not hitting great.”
San Jose State won the NCAA Championship in 1987, 1989 and 1992. The Spartans have been to the national championship 17 times since 1982 and Dormann felt this year’s team might be able to make it No. 18.
“I thought we would be pretty good this year,” Dormann said. “We have five girls that can shoot under par at any time, and to compete at this level you have to have that.”
That might be exactly what it takes for the Spartans to advance to the NCAA Championship.