Ole Miss enjoys experience at first NCAA Championship

Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss enjoys experience at first NCAA Championship

College

Ole Miss enjoys experience at first NCAA Championship

STILLWATER, Okla. – With 54 holes completed here at the NCAA Division I women’s golf championship, 15 teams will try to get through another checkpoint on their way to winning a national championship. However, nine teams are headed home. One of those teams is Ole Miss, making its first appearance at the finals.

The results were not what Ole Miss would have liked to have seen here this week at Karsten Creek. However, making Stillwater, Okla., a final destination point for the 2017-18 season will settle in nicely in a few days, if it hasn’t already.

“Obviously we were excited to be here and wanted to play the best golf we could,” said Ole Miss coach Kory Henkes. “It wasn’t our best week by any means, but it was such a great experience for this team.”

Excited to be here is probably an understatement. A team that placed last on the leaderboard showed a lot of smiles, and they should. Henkes brought two freshmen, one which was the SEC freshman of the year, and a sophomore to a place they had never been before. Both literally and figuratively.

For the first time in program history, Ole Miss played in the NCAA finals. An accomplishment that has become rare in college golf. In fact, the last time a team made a trip to the finals for the first time was in 2012 when Colorado did it. Prior to that, it was Louisville in 2007.

Now in her third season with Ole Miss women’s golf, Henkes is using her past experiences with the sport to vault the Rebels women’s golf program to new territory. She spent two seasons as the head coach at Charleston Southern before a three-year run at Augusta. Henkes also spent time as a professional caddy.

“Kory is as good of a coach as there is in the nation,” Ole Miss men’s coach Chris Malloy said. “She has completely transformed the program in less than three years. The work ethic that she and Drew (Belt) have shown since day one has been amazing and I really believe that we are just scratching the surface of what they are building. I would get used to seeing this program compete at the NCAA Championship for many, many years to come.

Malloy has brought success to the men’s side in his short time in Oxford and that is evident in Braden Thornberry winning the school’s first NCAA individual title in golf a year ago. Maybe some of that is catching on with the women’s program.

“I’ve never seen a synergy between a men’s and women’s program like we have here now,” said Malloy.

Henkes echoed Malloy: “We absolutely feed off them. It’s positive energy.”

For now, all systems go in Oxford for Henkes and her program.

“We were ranked 134th three years ago. This what the program needs to jump start us and show everyone we can do this.”

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