East: Alabama, Meadow sweep regional
Team winner: Alabama (20-under 844)
Individual winner: Stephanie Meadow (13-under 203)
Also moving on: Teams –– 2. Tulane (852) T-3. Arkansas (864) T-3. Oklahoma State (864) 5. Texas (871) 6. Northwestern (874) 7. UCLA (875) 8. Auburn (877)
• • •
• • •
Last shall be first: The best story coming out of the East Regional wasn’t at the top of the board, but rather the bottom of the cutline. Tournament host Auburn, seeded 14th, squeaked into its first NCAA Championship since 2010. The gusty performance came four days after head coach Kim Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“I wouldn’t say I coached this team to nationals,” said student assistant Danielle Downey, who was at the helm this week. “I cheerleaded them. This is coach’s team.”
Auburn finished three strokes ahead of Tennessee, thanks in large part to the gritty play of junior Marta Sanz, who played the last two rounds 7 under par.
• • •
Regional romp: Alabama extended its winning streak to five consecutive events with a breezy victory at the NCAA East Regional. It’s the school’s seventh title of the season. The Tide made fewer putts in the final round, shooting 2-over 290, but their overall 20-under total is the school’s second-lowest 54-hole showing in school history.
“At the beginning of the week if you’d told me we’d shoot 20 under I’d have been really excited about it,” said head coach Mic Potter. “So I’m going to be really excited about it.”
Junior Stephanie Meadow finds herself in the midst of the best golf of her young life, following an SEC victory with a commanding performance at regionals. Her 13-under 203 total ties the school’s record for lowest 54-hole performance. Meadow three-putted her 54th hole.
“I tried just to go out the best I could and not be protective or play too safe,” said Meadow, who closed with a 69 to collect her seventh career title.
’Bama senior Jennifer Kirby and freshman Emma Talley tied for fourth.
• • •
Short shots: Northwestern tied Tulane for the day’s best performance. Their 4-under 284 vaulted Northwestern in sixth place, giving the Big Ten champs a trip to the NCAAs for the first time since 2000 and second time in program history. Elizabeth Szokol turned in a bogey-free 68 to ignite the charge. “It’s so gritty,” said head coach Emily Fletcher of Szokol. “She was in control the whole way.” ... Princeton’s Kelly Shon, playing as an individual, advanced to the NCAA Championship by finishing runner-up to Meadow. Shon, the Ivy League champion, shot 71-68-70 to become the second individual in Princeton history to advance to NCAAs. Mary Moan tied for fifth at her regional to advance in 1997. ... Tulane’s 12-under 852 is a 54-hole school record, besting the previous record by six shots. Since the women’s golf program was relaunched in 2008-09, this marks the third time in five years the Green Wave have advanced to the national championship. Their last trip was 2010.