Central: USC wins fourth regional in five years
Who’s in? Who’s out? Lance Ringler and Asher Wildman break down all of the action from final rounds of the NCAA Women’s Regionals.
Team champion: Southern Cal (43-over 907)
Individual champion: Martina Gavier, Kent State (3-over 219)
The top 8: 2. Arizona State (915); 3. Purdue (931); 4. New Mexico (936); 5. Oklahoma State (937); T-6. Florida State (939); T-6. Oregon (939); 8. Kent State (940)
Close, but no cigar: 9. Denver (941); 10. Michigan State (942); 11. Georgia (946)
Individuals: Marta Silva Zamora, Georgia (223); Kimberly Kim, Denver (229)
Regional royalty: Andrea Gaston doesn’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but her team owns regional competition. For the fourth time in five years, USC won its regional. This time the Trojans bested top seed Arizona State by eight strokes on a chilly, windy Otter Creek Golf Course. This marks Southern Cal’s fourth win this season.
“This one means the most because it was under the most difficult conditions,” said Gaston, who likened the 6,417-yard setup to a U.S. Women’s Open.
Lizette Salas three-putted her first three holes on Thursday, but bounced back to finish second overall and lead the Trojans. After shooting 83-75 in the last two rounds of the Pac-10 Championship, Salas reevaluated her self-talk.
“I kind of redeemed myself,” she said.
USC won regionals in 2006 (Central), 2007 (Central) and 2008 (West) before finishing third last year. The Trojans will make their 19th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance later this month in Wilmington, N.C.
Flash dance: Mike Morrow trusts nothing until he sees it scripted on a giant scoreboard. After all, the total score Golfstat showed for his own team was off by one stroke.
Kent State was the only team standing by the board when the calligrapher tallied the numbers. As if to draw out the suspense, he penned in Kent State’s total last. A few squeals and grins popped out once the Golden Flash realized they’d secured the eighth spot by one stroke over Denver.
“How will I concentrate on school?” Martina Gavier pondered aloud before breaking into a sprint to tell Argentinean compatriot, Mercedes Germino, the good news. Germino’s subsequent awkward jumping should’ve been caught on camera.
Gavier took individual honors with rounds of 72-75-72, finishing two strokes ahead of USC’s Lizette Salas.
“I’m really confident at the moment,” said Gavier, a junior who won the MAC Championship last month for her first collegiate title.
This marks Kent State’s first NCAA Championship appearance since 2006. They were seeded 12th in the region and are ranked 35th by Golfweek.
As for Morrow, when the veteran coach glanced up at the board he saw his own name staring back. Mandi Morrow, a sophomore on the team and Morrow’s youngest daughter, posted a 78 on Saturday, the team’s second-best score.
“For a No. 5 player, she did OK,” Morrow said.
Back at ya, dad.
What happened to ...?: Three top-8 seeds failed to advance out of the Central: Michigan State (No. 4), Georgia (No. 5) and Denver (No. 6). Georgia fell the hardest, plunging to 14th with four scores north of 80. Marta Silva Zamora was the only bright spot in the Bulldog lineup, carding a solid 72 to finish third individually and earn her ticket to NCAA’s. The last time Georgia coach Kelley Hester took an individual to NCAA’s, she won. That player, of course, was Stacy Lewis back in 2007 when both were at Arkansas.
Quote of the day: “Maybe this will be a wake-up call for them.” – Purdue coach Devon Brouse on his team’s performance. While the Boilermakers were seeded third and finished third, they lost to USC by 24 strokes. Not exactly close.