May 6, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas -
The two-time defending Southland Conference Champion Lamar Lady Cardinals' golf team will be in Stillwater, Okla., beginning Thursday to open play in the 2014 NCAA Central Regional Championships, with a berth in the NCAA Championships on the line.
The NCAA Regional Championships will be a three-day, 54-hole tournament played on the 7,400-yard, par-71 Karsten Creek Golf Course beginning Thursday at 7:30 a.m. - official pairings have not yet been released. All teams will play 18 holes each day.
Lamar is one of 24 schools, and six individuals, at the NCAA Central Regional vying for a spot in the NCAA Championships. The regional field consists of UCLA, Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, LSU, Oklahoma State, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Miami, Mississippi State, California, Kent State, Kansas, Texas, UNLV, Colorado, SMU, Minnesota, Harvard, Lamar, Wichita State, LIU-Brooklyn and Siena, while six individuals will be representing Purdue, TCU, Ball State, Illinois, Texas Tech and Illinois.
"I'm very proud of this team," said head coach Brian White. "We had some question marks entering the season, but it didn't take long for those questions to be answered. We graduated one of the school's all-time top golfers last season, and although you can't replace a talent of Julie Aime, everyone picked up the slack this year.
"The same can be said of golf as any other sport. When you get to this point in the season, there are no no weak teams. All of them are championship caliber programs. It will be interesting to see how our young squad responds earlier on. We will prepare the same way we have all season. If we can get past the nerves in the first round, I believe that we will be fine," added White.
The Lady Cardinals received the Southland's bid to the regional championships by recording a wire-to-wire victory at the Southland Conference Championships. Lamar faced a challenge from three different team's on nearly a round-by-round basis but the youthful Lamar squad never cracked under the pressure recording a six-stroke victory.
It is the second-straight season Lamar has advanced to the NCAA regionals. Last year, the Lady Cards recorded a 21st-place finish shooting a 62-over par 926, but the 2014 version of the LU golf team brings almost a completely different look. Only two of the five players from last year's squad return for this year's regional tournament (junior Nghi Ngo
and sophomore Taylor Stockton
). Despite the youthful look (three freshmen, one sophomore and a junior) on the current travel roster, this is arguably the deepest squad LU has produced on the women's side.
"I felt confident that our depth would be our strength this season," said White. "We wouldn't be as strong at the top of our lineup as we were last year, but overall we were stronger top to bottom. Our freshman class really stepped up all year long."
Led by freshman Wenny Chang, Lamar placed four players on the All-SLC squads this season, including two first-team selections. Chang was also named the league's top freshman.
The top eight teams, and top two individuals not on one of those teams, will advance to the NCAA Championships. The NCAA Championships will take play May 20-23 at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.