May 12, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The University of Alabama women's golf team secured its place in the NCAA Championships by finishing tied for fourth on Saturday at the NCAA East Regional on the par-72, 6,253-yard Penn State Blue Course.
The Crimson Tide (+15, 879) fired its best round of the tournament with a 2-over-par 290 to finish six-shots back of regional winner South Carolina (+9, 873). Texas A&M and Texas posted under-par rounds on Saturday to tie for second at 14-over 878.
The top eight finishers at the NCAA East Regional advanced to the NCAA Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club on May 22-25 in Franklin, Tenn. Florida carded an even-par final round to finish tied with Alabama in fourth while Arizona State, Michigan State and Duke all finished at 887 to secure the final three bids to the NCAA Championships.
"We made a few birdies coming down the stretch today, which gets us into the right side of the draw at the NCAA Championships to be playing with the top teams," Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. "We really grinded it out this weekend. It is a northern course where we really had a hard time reading the greens. We gave ourselves some birdie chances but we couldn't convert on the greens.
"I was proud of the way the girls kept working hard, played one shot at a time and kept things under their control. We were able survive and advance and now everybody starts out even at the NCAA Championships."
On the individual front junior Jennifer Kirby's quest for medalist honors came up just short on Saturday, finishing second two shots off the pace of Texas A&M's Katerina Ruzickova. Kirby carded a 2-under-par 70 in the final round. She made a strong push on the back nine with three birdies - on the 12th, 15th and 18th - and no bogeys for a 1-under-par total of 215.
Sophomore Stephanie Meadow shot 74 in the final round for a 4-over 220. Senior Brooke Pancake posted a 76 that left her at 7-over 223.
Sophomore Hannah Collier fired her second under-par round of the tournament with a 2-under 70 to post a 5-over 221. Johanna Tillström shot her best round of the regional with a 4-over 76 to count toward the Tide's team total for the second straight round.
Alabama has now qualified for seven straight NCAA Championship under the direction of head coach Mic Potter, after making the finals field only one time - 1987 - prior to the Hall of Famer's arrival in Tuscaloosa prior to the 2005-06 season.
The Southeastern Conference had seven teams advance to the NCAA Championships. Joining Alabama, Florida and South Carolina out of the East Region is Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas from the Central Regional and LSU from the West Regional. Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi were not able to advance out of their regions.
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