May 7, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Mic Potter's third-ranked Alabama women's golf team captured the NCAA East Regional on Saturday with a 54-hole total of 2-over-par 866 on the par-72, 6,271-yard Legends Course at LPGA International.
It is the first NCAA Regional title in school history and qualifies the Crimson Tide for the 2011 NCAA Golf Championship at the Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas, on May 18-21. UA edged North Carolina by two strokes for the victory with a 7-over-par round of 295 on Saturday.
Alabama has now advanced to the NCAA Championship in each of Potter's six years at the Capstone. Prior to his arrival, the Tide had made just one trip to the NCAA Championship (1987) in the program's history.
"I'm not sure we were in it emotionally today," Potter said. "It was going to take a major breakdown not to qualify for NCAAs, and I think we were too complacent. At the same time I'm very proud of what this team accomplished. Winning a regional has always been a goal and this is the first time we have done it.
"We did what we needed to do to win and at the end of the day all that matters is we are one of the top seeds going to nationals."
True freshman Stephanie Meadow overwhelmed the field individually to capture medalist honors. She is the first Crimson Tide player to win three times in one season and also equaled the school record for most career wins.
"The funny thing about Stephanie's win is that it was total dominance, but she doesn't have what you would call a dominating style," Potter said following Meadow's six-stroke victory. "She isn't really long, doesn't reach the par 5s in two shots, but she keeps the ball in play, avoids big mistakes, has great distance control on her irons and makes a bunch of birdies when she gets her putter going like yesterday and today."
Meadow blitzed the field with rounds of 71 and 67 on the first two days to take the 36-hole lead and closed things out with a 3-under-par 69 on Saturday to finish at 9-under-par 207 to outdistance runner-up Pia Halbig of California by six shots. The 207 was a career best for Meadow.
Junior Brooke Pancake finished tied for sixth at 1-over-par 217 after a final round 73. She carded four birdies and five bogeys on the round. Senior Camilla Lennarth was right behind in a tie for 11th with a 2-over-par total of 218. She finished with round of 72, 71 and 75.
Freshman Hannah Collier was Alabama fourth and final counting score in Saturday's final round. She shot six-over 78 to at 9-over-par 225. Jennifer Kirby couldn't find her swing in round three with an 11-over 83.
"After what has gone on in Tuscaloosa following the tornados, who knew which way it would go for us on the golf course," Potter said. "It was very emotional for the girls. Sometimes you need perspective. It makes you realize that some things aren't as important as life itself, and I think that lesson helped us navigate our way through this tournament."
After the Crimson Tide and Tar Heels at the top, Arizona State (+7, 871) was third, Coastal Carolina (+12, 876) was fourth and California (+14, 878) rounded out the top five. No. 4 Purdue, the defending national champion, finished sixth at +15 to qualify as did Florida in seventh place at 16-over-par. Vanderbilt defeated Florida State in a playoff to claim the final NCAA Championship qualifying.