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NCAA women’s regionals: South Carolina survives; Rachel Heck’s victory paces Stanford

It was a great day to be a No. 8 seed as NCAA Division I women’s golf regionals wrapped up Wednesday at six sites across the country.

Three No. 8 seeds finished among the top five at their respective regionals to advance to next week’s NCAA Championship at Omni La Costa in Carlsbad, California. Oklahoma State used a record round to climb five spots and place runner-up in East Lansing, Michigan. Oregon State finished fifth, five shots clear of Tennessee in Bermuda Run, North Carolina. And Tulsa, which lost its best player to the pros midseason, edged Georgia and Houston by a shot while tying top seed South Carolina for fourth on a tough University Club layout in Auburn, Alabama.

There were some upsets as well, as five top five seeds did not advance – No. 3 Arizona and No. 5 Cal in Las Vegas, No. 3 Florida in East Lansing, No. 4 Georgia in Auburn, and No. 5 UCF in Bermuda Run.

Individually, the stars showed out, including LSU’s Ingrid Lindblad winning in Bryan, Texas, Auburn’s Anna Davis getting it done at home, and Stanford’s Rachel Heck winning her ninth college tournament – and first since March 2022 – in Cle Elum, Washington.

Here’s everything you need to know from the final day of women’s regionals, including the biggest story from each site:



University Club, Auburn, Alabama

Advancing teams: 1. Auburn (+10), 2. Oregon (+14), 3. North Carolina (+21), 4. South Carolina (+27), 4. Tulsa (+27)

Eliminated: 6. Georgia (+28), 6. Houston (+28), 8. Miami (+51), 9. Michigan (+60), 10. East Tennessee State (+68), 11. Kennesaw State (+72), 12. Albany (+115)

Individual champion: Anna Davis, Auburn (-5)

Advancing individual: Isabella McCauley, Minnesota (T-2, -2)

The story: South Carolina was very much on the ropes.

The Gamecocks, the top seed and second-ranked team in the country, began the final round in seventh place, two shots outside the cut line, after a disastrous, 17-over second day. A firm, fast and tight University Club had taken drivers out of head coach Kalen Anderson’s players’ hands. And with six holes remaining, South Carolina remained on the outside looking in as it tried to avoid joining the 2017 UCLA team as the only No. 1 seed to not advance out of regionals.

“We had some adversity, but great teams can get themselves out of holes and rise to the occasion, and we did that,” Anderson said. “Our finish says it all.”

South Carolina’s counters played the final six holes in 1 under with just three bogeys. The Gamecocks were especially clutch on Nos. 17 and 18, where a day earlier they had carded five bogeys and two doubles but rebounded on Wednesday to make 10 pars.

Senior Louise Rydqvist led the way with a closing, 1-under 71 to finish T-2 individually while freshman Maylis Lamoure, subbed out after the first round, chipped in a 72. Sophia Burnett, who was subbed in for the final 36 holes, played them in 3 over.

In the end, it was South Carolina hanging on to qualify for a fourth straight NCAA Championship, where the Gamecocks will look to build off finally getting to match play last year.

“In all honesty, that was a mentally exhausting golf course, and we spent a lot of emotion there,” Anderson said. “We just need to get everybody sharpened up a little bit on the things that they need to do individually, get some rest and man, just kind of get them revived mentally because next week’s going to be another long week.

“But we’re riding high on excitement, and it all starts from a clean slate now. We’ve had a great year and we had one bad round that hurt us pretty bad, but we managed it, still got through and survived.”

Chip shots: Freshman Anna Davis notched her first college win to lead Auburn to its first regional victory since 2005 and fifth NCAA Championship appearance in the past six years. “I know they really wanted to win last year. We missed, and that was very painful,” Auburn head coach Melissa Luellen said. “We didn’t talk about it, but I know it was in the back of some of their heads today.” … A couple weeks after firing a final-round 64 to win the Big Ten individual title, Minnesota sophomore Isabella McCauley shot 7-under 65 to climb 16 spots and finish second in Auburn to punch her NCAA Championship ticket for the second straight year. She’s the first Gopher to appear in back-to-back national championships since Kate Hughes (1987 and 1988). … A year after falling flat at regionals, Oregon closed with the round of the day by 10 shots (5 under) to finish second. … North Carolina is heading to nationals for the first time since 2017. … Tulsa, which saw its top player, Lily Thomas, bolt for Q-Series last winter, qualified for its second straight NCAA Championship by a single shot as Grace Kilcrease birdied two of her final three holes.


Bermuda Run

Bermuda Run CC, Bermuda Run, North Carolina

Advancing teams: 1. Ole Miss (-21), 2. Texas (-20), 3. Wake Forest (-18), 4. Mississippi State (-3), 5. Oregon State (-2)

Eliminated: 6. Tennessee (+3), 7. North Texas (+14), 8. South Florida (+20), 9. UCF (+21), 10. Navy (+46), 11. Charleston Southern (+47), 12. Delaware (+53)

Individual champions: Rachel Kuehn, Wake Forest, and Caitlyn Macnab, Ole Miss (-12)

Advancing individual: Bailey Davis, Tennessee (T-3, -8)

The story: After a disappointing 11th-place finish at the SEC Championship, Ole Miss head coach Kory Henkes decided to hold a qualifier for the fifth spot in the Rebels’ postseason lineup. The playoff would include her reigning first-team All-American, Andrea Lignell, who had just notched her fifth straight finish of 45th or worse. Lignell wouldn’t qualify, and Nicole Gal would take her spot at regionals.

The shake-up worked out as Ole Miss picked up the first NCAA regional title in program history on Wednesday at Bermuda Run, taking down Texas by a shot and Wake Forest, host and reigning national champion, by three.

TCU transfer Caitlyn Macnab, who had cooled off after starting her first season in Oxford with eight straight top-12s, led the way by sharing individual medalist honors with Wake senior Rachel Kuehn. Another transfer, Justine Fournand from South Carolina, added a T-15 finish while freshman Sophie Linder was T-13.

“We know we have the right girls in place here, and the fight down the stretch was really impressive, super proud of each and every one of them,” Henkes said. “It’s a really tough field and to get a win here is quite impressive.”

Chip shots: Texas is one of four programs that have qualified for each of the past eight NCAA Championships along with USC, Stanford and Florida State. … Kuehn has now won back-to-back tournaments after capturing the ACC individual title two weeks ago, and freshman Macy Pate was T-7, her seventh top-13 finish for Wake. … Mississippi State had three players finish outside the top 30, though junior Julia Lopez Ramirez again carried the SEC champion Bulldogs with a T-3 showing, her fifth top-3 of the season; she had won each of her past two events. … Oregon State climbed two spots on the final day to punch a second consecutive NCAA Championship ticket. … Tennessee was in second place at 10 under after the first round, but the Vols played their final eight holes in 9 over to miss by five shots.


East Lansing

Forest Akers GC (West), East Lansing, Michigan

Advancing teams: 1. USC (-9), 2. Oklahoma State (-5), 3. Michigan State (-4), 4. Northwestern (-3), 5. Pepperdine (-1)

Eliminated: 6. Denver (+3), 7. Florida (+7), 8. Kentucky (+20), 9. Augusta (+27), 10. Indiana (+31), 11. Oakland (+35), 12. Illinois State (+54)

Individual champion: Lauren Beaudreau, Notre Dame (-12)

Advancing individual: Beaudreau

The story: Oklahoma State head coach Greg Robertson and most of his players were chilling in the van Wednesday evening in the Forest Akers parking lot, waiting for their star player, Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, to finish a final exam. They had plenty of congratulation messages to answer.

The Cowgirls shot 9 under to mark the program’s best round in regional history, rising five spots on the leaderboard and ending up second, just four shots back of winner USC, to advance to a fourth straight NCAA Championship.

“My assistant Maddi [Swaney] and I were talking before the round, and we said, ‘We’re going to have to have the round of the year today,’” Robertson said. “I’m just so proud of them. This year has been just such a crazy year.”

It started with one of Robertson’s veterans, Rina Tatematsu, transferring to Cal. Then junior Clemence Martin re-injured her back after the spring opener and has been forced to miss the rest of the season. An 11th-place finisher at nationals last year, Oklahoma State didn’t finish better than seventh over its final five stroke-play events of the regular season.

But this week, it all turned around. Freshman Marta Silchenko shot 5-under 67 on Wednesday to finish T-7 while Hinson-Tolchard added a closing 68 to earn solo third. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was senior Angelica Pfefferkorn, a former walk-on who made just one lineup in three seasons before earning a scholarship and playing regularly this season; she made just six pars but shot a final-round 71 to help the Cowgirls keep their season alive.

“It’s been frustrating at times for them and us as coaches,” Robertson added, “but for them to come out and do what they did today, very rewarding.”

Chip shots: USC has now won four times this season, captured three regionals under head coach Justin Silverstein and advanced to 26 straight NCAA Championships. … Michigan State, outside the top five after the first round, made up for getting through the last time it hosted a regional (2019) by punching its third NCAA Championship ticket in four years. … While Northwestern’s counters played their final nine in 5 under to clinch a second straight nationals berth, Denver’s four did so in 5 over and ended up four shots back of Pepperdine. … Florida, the No. 3 seed, has now missed in four straight regionals.

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Traditions GC, Bryan, Texas

Advancing teams: 1. LSU (-8), 2. Clemson (-4), 2. SMU (-4), 4. Vanderbilt (+1), 5. Texas A&M (+6)

Eliminated: 6. Ohio State (+11), 7. Iowa State (+16), 8. Sam Houston (+26), 9. Maryland (+28), 10. Texas State (+31), 11. Little Rock (+56), 12. Sacred Heart (+57)

Individual champion: Ingrid Lindblad, LSU (-12)

Advancing individual: Carla Bernat, Kansas State (T-3, -7)

The story: LSU was apparently tired of playing out of a hole.

Last year at the NCAA Palm Beach Gardens Regionals, the Tigers had to rally on their final nine just to edge Arkansas for fifth place. Then a couple weeks ago at the SEC Championship, LSU climbed into the top eight for match play in the final round.

This week, though, the Tigers saved the dramatics. LSU won its first outright NCAA regional title in program history, shooting 8 under to beat SMU and Clemson by four shots and finish 19 shots ahead of sixth.

“The team played well this week, but they weren’t satisfied going into today’s final round,” LSU head coach Garrett Runion said. “They wanted to do more than just ‘get in;’ they wanted to win the regional. Mission accomplished. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to reach San Diego, which was a big reason why Latanna [Stone] and Ingrid [Lindblad] came back. Regionals are the most stressful tournaments of the year, and they stepped up when they needed to. It gives us momentum going into the final stretch.”

Lindblad continued her dominant fifth and final season, winning her fourth event – and 15th of her career. In nine starts this season, Lindblad hasn’t finished outside the top five. This week she fired three straight 68s to win by three shots.

Stone added a T-6, just her second top-10 of the spring. And senior Carla Tejedo was T-13, her best finish since February.

Chip shots: A year after winning an NCAA regional title and then finishing 11th at nationals, SMU placed second to advance to its second consecutive NCAA Championship. … Clemson now has three runner-up finishes this spring after saying goodbye to top player Savannah Grewal, who turned pro to play Q-Series last winter. … Led by Celina Sattelkau’s 4-under 68, Vanderbilt shot 8 under on the final day to rise two spots and finish fourth. The Commodores will now play a third straight NCAA Championship. … Host Texas A&M was in trouble on the front nine before its counters played the back in 6 under, which proved the difference, as the Aggies ended up five clear of sixth-place Ohio State. “It wasn’t the ideal start,” Texas A&M head coach Gerrod Chadwell said. “We compounded our poor start with some putting mistakes, but we told them to stay patient. The front nine was going to get its licks, but the back nine was going to present some opportunities. I am proud of them for staying in it and am glad we have another tee time in California next week.”

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Las Vegas

Spanish Trail CC, Las Vegas

Advancing teams: 1. Arkansas (E), 2. Purdue (+4), 3. Baylor (+8), 4. UCLA (+12), 5. Florida State (+14)

Eliminated: 6. Arizona (+16), 7. Cal (+20), 8. Oklahoma (+33), 8. Kent State (+33), 10. Colorado State (+34), 11. Dartmouth (+62), 12. Xavier (+68)

Individual champions: Zoe Campos, UCLA, and Kajal Mistry, Arkansas (-6)

Advancing individual: Veronika Kedronova, Kent State (T-6, -1)

The story: When Zack Byrd was hired to be Purdue’s new head women’s golf coach prior to last season, the Boilermakers didn’t have a complete schedule. Byrd got right to work, and when filling out the calendar, he focused on tournaments that would host upcoming regionals.

One of the events Purdue got into was The Show, hosted by UNLV at Spanish Trail. Last season, the Boilermakers struggled, finishing 10th, but this spring they were remarkably improved, tying for fourth.

“We had a lot of reps on this course,” Byrd said. “Our players last night said it almost feels second nature because we’ve played it so much, which is really fortunate when the wind is blowing like it was today. It was absolutely brutal.”

As scores ballooned in heavy crosswinds – just two of the 12 teams shot better than 11 over – the Boilermakers held steady to finish second behind Arkansas. Senior Jocelyn Burch made a hole-in-one with 5-iron from 203 yards on the seventh hole while three of her teammates finished T-13 or better: Ashley Kozlowski (T-13), Momo Sugiyama (T-11) and Jasmine Kahler (T-8). Kahler, now with five straight top-25s, is freshman from Carlsbad, California, where next week’s NCAA Championship will be played.

Purdue finished sixth at regionals last season, Byrd’s inaugural campaign after arriving from Ole Miss, where he served as an assistant and helped the Rebels to the 2021 NCAA title. Byrd’s team this season, which has overcome the loss of scoring leader Kan Bunnabodee to the pros midseason, has developed a trend, with top-4 finishes on regional layouts such as Spanish Trail (now twice), Forest Akers, Kampen-Cosler Course (Purdue’s home layout that’s hosting a men’s regional next week) and Ohio State’s Scarlet Course, which has hosted several regional and national championships.

“We really like hard golf courses,” Byrd said. “When we woke up this morning, we’re wearing three layers at the start, it’s blowing hard, and we said, ‘This is a Boilermaker day. This is what we do well.’ It was chaos out there, and we have a really, really tough group of players who are fighting the hardest that they’ve fought all year right now.”

Chip shots: The five teams that advanced were in the top five after each round, including Arkansas, which led wire to wire to avenge last year’s regional exit and capture the program’s second regional title, first since 2018. … After starting the fall with three straight finishes of 12th or worse, Baylor is now headed to a sixth NCAA Championship in seven years. … Campos’ co-victory marks her fourth victory of the season, all coming in her last six starts for UCLA. … In her return to the lineup after missing ACCs because of the Chevron, Lottie Woad placed third to help Florida State finish fifth by two shots over Arizona, one of two No. 3 seeds to see their season end.


Cle Elum

Tumble Creek Club, Cle Elum, Washington

Advancing teams: 1. Stanford (-17), 2. Duke (+1), 3. Virginia (+12), 4. Arizona State (+21), 5. San Jose State (+23)

Eliminated: 6. Kansas (+35), 7. Washington (+38), 8. Long Beach State (+42), 9. Virginia Tech (+47), 10. Alabama (+52), 11. Sacramento State (+55), 12. Seattle (+75)

Individual champion: Rachel Heck, Stanford (-8)

Advancing individual: Jasmine Leovao, Long Beach State (eighth, +2)

The story: Stanford senior Rachel Heck has been through the wringer. There were the injuries, including the thoracic outlet syndrome that required doctors removed one of her ribs last spring. There were the mental struggles as Heck wrestled with her future; she announced in late March that she wasn’t going to play professional golf. She played just one postseason round as a junior, shooting an 82 before being subbed out of the NCAA Championship, and this season she’d teed it up just twice for the Cardinal entering the Pac-12 Championship.

But then Heck, with her college career winding down, delivered a vintage performance, tying for seventh to help Stanford to its first conference crown since 2014.

She wasn’t done, either.

Heck fired a course-record-tying, 7-under 65 Tuesday at Tumble Creek and then closed out a four-shot victory over teammate Kelly Xu on Wednesday for her ninth career college win and first since the Gunrock Invitational in March 2022.

“It’s been hard the past couple of years, being at home and constantly refreshing Golfstat,” said Heck, who also missed regionals as a sophomore because of illness; she swept conference, regional and national titles as a freshman. “So, to be out here with my teammates, my best friends, is such a privilege and I don’t take a second of it for granted.”

Heck continued, “My main priority has been staying healthy, so I have had very little expectations for my game. I’m proud of myself and so grateful for all the people who have helped me get back to this point.”

Megha Ganne and Paula Martin Sampedro each added T-3 finishes as Stanford cruised to an 18-shot win at 17 under.

Chip shots: This was one of two regionals in which each of the top five seeds advanced, and here they nearly did so in order with No. 2 Duke finishing second and No. 5 San Jose State placing fifth, a comfortable 12 shots ahead of Kansas. … Duke has now qualified for 32 NCAA Championships in 40 seasons under head coach Dan Brooks. … Virginia’s Amanda Sambach tied for third for her fifth finish of T-3 or better this season. … The last time Arizona State missed out on the NCAA Championship before last season was 2016; the next season they won the national championship. Both the 2017 team and this year’s team boast a single senior in the starting lineup. … Alabama placed 10th as the Tide were without two potential starters who recently entered the transfer portal, sophomore Taylor Kehoe and freshman Kaitlyn Schroeder.