May 7, 2013
Georgia at the NCAA West Regional
Dates: May 9-11
Location: Stanford, Calif.
Course: Stanford University Golf Course (par 71; 6267 yards)
Live Scoring: Golfstat.com
UGA Treks to Stanford for West Regional
The No. 18-ranked Georgia women's golf team will be the No. 6 seed in the NCAA West Regional this Thursday-Saturday at the Stanford University Golf Course. The Bulldogs will be paired with fourth-seeded Purdue and fifth-seeded Stanford for Thursday's opening round, teeing off in waves beginning at 11:36 a.m. ET.
Georgia is among 24 teams and six individuals vying to advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be contested on the University of Georgia Golf Course on May 21-24. The top eight teams and the top two individuals who are not on advancing teams will qualify for the NCAAs.
"I'm excited," first-year head coach Josh Brewer said. "That's why we played there in the fall, in case the NCAA sent us there for the Regional. Now we know what it feels like to travel out there and we know the golf course. I'm excited because we'll get to see some teams we haven't seen for a while."
Top-ranked Southern Cal is the No. 1 seed in the West. The remaining top eight seeds are No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 12 Purdue, No. 14 Stanford, the No. 18 Bulldogs, No. 19 Baylor and No. 24 Texas A&M. Six more top-40 teams are included in the field: No. 25 Pepperdine, No. 30 LSU, No. 32 Denver, No. 36 South Carolina, No. 37 Ohio State and No. 40 Oregon. Rounding out the competing squads are UNLV, Cal, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), San Jose State, Harvard, Kent State, North Arizona, North Dakota State and Long Island.
"I feel like the NCAA didn't play any favorites by keeping people close to home," Brewer said. "The committee tried to make it competitive, and it's obvious they want the 24 best teams in the nation to advance to Athens. As a head coach, you have to appreciate that. They're trying to reward the best teams."
The Bulldogs are coming off a runner-up finish at the SEC Championships. Georgia will utilize the same lineup for the NCAA Regional, a quintet that included three top-20 individual finishes at the SECs - Manuela Carbajo Ré (t-8th), Rocio Sanchez Lobato (t-11th) and Emilie Burger (t-14th). Freshmen Kailey Walsh and Amira Alexander will round out the Bulldogs' playing five at Stanford.
Four-fifths of the Georgia lineup has been relatively consistent throughout the entire season.
Burger and Sanchez Lobato have been in the Bulldogs' playing five for all nine events during 2012-13. Carbajo Ré missed only the Mason Rudolph Championship in the fall while away representing Argentina in the World Team Amateur Championship. Walsh has played in every event but competed as an individual at the LSU Golf Classic where, interestingly, she was Georgia's top individual finisher.
Alexander did not compete in the fall but worked her way into the lineup for four of five team events this spring.
Brewer entered the postseason confident and was pleased with his team's runner-up showing at the SECs, which included besting three top-10 teams.
"We're ready," Brewer said prior to the SECs. "As we've talked all week, we started practice on August 20th and we haven't changed one thing. We had a process and a plan in place and we're going to stick with it. It has been good enough to put us in position a lot. We'll just hopefully get all five players playing well this week."
Win and Go Home
"Win or go home" has become a catch phrase associated with postseason competition in every sport at every level.
For the Georgia women's golf team, the statement "Win and go home" is more appropriate this spring.
The University of Georgia Golf Course will serve as site of the 2013 NCAA Championships in less than two weeks. Twenty-four teams and six individuals will be competing for national titles from May 21-24 in Athens.
"Our mind set is to try to go to Stanford and win a Regional title," Josh Brewer said. "We want to go out there and see where we stack up against the 1-2-3 seeds and see what work we need to do - if we need to do more work - before the national championships. We want to see if we've closed the gap on a USC or an Arizona, who beat us pretty solidly in the fall. We want to see if we've improved this spring and if we're one of the better teams in the country."
UGA a national leader for several decades
The University of Georgia has been one of the nation's premier women's college golf programs for decades.
The Bulldogs have posted 25 top-20 and 20 top-10 finishes at AIAW and NCAA Championships since 1979, including winning the 2001 NCAA title.
Since the NCAA went to a Regional format in 1993, Georgia also has claimed three East team titles (1993, 1998 and 1999) and one individual crown (Reilley Rankin in 1998).
In addition to the team success, three Bulldog golfers have claimed individual national titles.
Terri Moody earned medalist honors at the 1981 AIAW Championships at the UGA Golf Course, while Cindy Schreyer and Vicki Goetze took home individual crowns at the 1984 and 1992 NCAA Championships, respectively.
Go West young ladies
This is the Bulldogs' fifth appearance in the West since the expansion to three Regionals in 2001.
Previously, Georgia placed fifth at Stanford in 2004; ninth in Las Cruces, N.M., in 2005; fifth in Auburn, Wash., in 2006; and 14th in a return to Auburn, Wash., two years ago.
The Southeastern Conference again leads the nation in participating teams in this year's NCAA Women's Golf Championships. The SEC has supplied the most entrants in the team field for at least the past six years (including tying with the PAC-10 with nine schools in 2008).
All told, 13 of 14 SEC schools earned Regional bids this spring, followed by the PAC-12 with eight bids and then the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 all with seven.
Georgia is one of five league schools in the West Regional with LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Alabama and Arkansas are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, at the East Regional in Auburn, Ala. The field there also includes Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Florida is the No. 3 seed at the Central Regional in Norman, Okla., where Mississippi State also will compete.
The 13-team tally is an SEC all-sports record for teams advancing to NCAA competition. Thirteen men's golfs teams made the NCAA field announced this Monday.
Also this weekend, 12 of 13 men's tennis programs (Missouri does not sponsor that sport) open play in the NCAA Championships. In 2001, 2002 and 2004, all 12 SEC schools earned spots in the 64-team men's tennis bracket.
The previous record for women's golf was established in 2011 when 11 squads reached the NCAA Regionals.
The most SEC women's golf teams to advance from Regional play to the NCAA Championships is seven, a tally set four times - 2006 (Columbus, Ohio), 2008 (Albuquerque, N.M.), 2011 (College Station, Texas) and 2012 (Franklin, Tenn.)
Trio earns SEC honors
Emilie Burger, Manuela Carbajo Ré and Kailey Walsh all garnered postseason honors from the SEC on May 6.
Burger was named first-team All-SEC, becoming a rare four-time All-SEC performer. Burger was a second-team selection as a freshman and sophomore and a first-team honoree as a junior and senior.
In addition, Carbajo Ré was tabbed second-team All-SEC and both Carbajo Ré and Kailey Walsh were included on the SEC's All-Freshman team.
Burger leads Bulldogs
Emilie Burger entered her final campaign with an already impressive competitive résumé, earning All-America and All-SEC honors in each of her first three seasons at UGA.
Burger has taken her game to another level during 2012-13, headlined by individual titles at the Mason Rudolph Championship and the Bryan National Collegiate. All told, she has four top-10 and eight top-20 individual finishes in nine tournaments to date.
Burger was clutch late in the final round of each win.
At the Mason Rudolph, Burger birdied two of her final three holes to secure a three-shot win over runners-up Caroline Powers of Michigan State and Kendall Prince of Arizona.
At the Bryan National, Burger played her final five holes at 4-under - including an eagle-2 - to pass second-round leader Brittany Altomare of Virginia.
"It's a great feeling knowing you have a top-15, top-10 person every week who has a chance to win every time out if a few things go right," Josh Brewer said. "I think Emilie has had fun this year, with the three freshmen. They've kind of made her enjoy every stop and made her feel two or three years younger instead of thinking this is my senior year."
We call it ''Ro''stseason
Sophomore Rocio Sanchez Lobato has played some of the best golf of her collegiate career in the postseason, including two top-10s and another top-20 in a combined four SEC and NCAA Championship events.
"Ro has a knack for playing well when the lights are on and the stakes are highest," Josh Brewer said. "Last summer, she was runner-up at the British Am. I've watched her play in European Team Championships, and she's performed well for her country. Last season, she was our best golfer in the postseason. I expect her to step up and play well and carry that into the Regionals."
Sanchez Lobato finished eighth at last year's SECs at Blessings Golf Course. She then secured an individual spot in the NCAA Championships field by tying for 10th at the Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio.
Sanchez Lobato was a respectable 40th after 54 holes of the NCAA Championships but battled a stomach ailment throughout the final round and posted a 79 to slip to 72nd in the field.
Two weeks ago, she tied for 11th at the SEC Championships, missing a third top-10 by a single shot.
In addition to the aforementioned runner-up finish at the British Am (where she lost to Alabama's Stephanie Meadow), last summer Sanchez Lobato tied for 11th individually and helped Spain to the team title at the World University Games and then tied for 12th individually at the European Ladies Am, her third straight top-20 in that event.
Kailey follows her brother Blair to UGA
Freshman Kailey Walsh is the younger sister of former Georgia and current Minnesota Vikings placekicker Blair Walsh.
Blair completed his collegiate career in 2011 as the all-time leading scorer in UGA and SEC history and also ranked fourth in NCAA FBS annals with 412 points. He enjoyed a spectacular rookie season with the Vikings, earning All-Pro status after converting 92.1 percent of his 38 field goal attempts, including an NFL record 10-of-10 on FGs for 50 yards or more.
Alexander notches only eagle at SECs
Amira Alexander recorded the only eagle in all three rounds of the 2013 SEC Championships...taking advantage of a fortunate bounce to do so.
Alexander arrived at the par-5, 439-yard No. 18 at 5-over during the second round of the SECs. That hole featured a cart path running in front of the traditional fairway zone, with a creek in front of the cart path.
"The eagle was totally unexpected," Alexander said. "My teammates told me that I couldn't hit it far enough to get in the hazard. I hit my driver and it was a great drive. It hit the cart path and I thought it went into the water. When I got up there I saw it was a great shot and I thought to myself `Why not just stick it on the green and make an eagle?'"
That left the diminutive 5-0 freshman with a 143-yard, 8-iron into the green. She got up-and-down in two to post the lone eagle in 3,780 holes of golf played by 70 SEC golfers over the weekend.
SEC Weekly Honorees
Three Georgia golfers earned weekly SEC accolades during the spring.
Rocio Sanchez Lobato and Emilie Burger were Golfer of the Week on Feb. 27 and April 4, respectively, after tournament victories.
Kailey Walsh was March 27 Freshman of the Week after finishing fifth at LSU.