The Georgia women’s golf team will compete in the NCAA East Lansing Regional on May 6-8, looking to advance to the NCAA Championships. The Bulldogs are among 18 teams that will play 54 holes of stroke play at the Forest Akers Golf Course West. The top-six teams will then advance to the NCAAs, which will be contested May 17-22 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
“Let’s just go play,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We had a couple of days off after the conference championship, but we went back to work today. Now that we know the golf course, I’ll work on a few little things. If we play the way we can play and we play the way we’ve played the last month, I like our chances. It’s golf and you can play defense on your opponent, but I promised we’ll be in very good shape come Wednesday if we take care of ourselves.”
The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 38 by Golfweek and No. 39 by Golfstat. No. 4 Stanford is the top seed in East Lansing followed by No. 5 Arizona, No. 12 Kent State, No. 14 UCLA, No. 20 Michigan State, No. 21 Campbell, Illinois, Baylor, North Carolina, the Bulldogs, Louisville, Augusta, LSU, Indiana, Long Beach State, Xavier, Harvard and IUPUI.
The Bulldogs will stick with the same playing five from the SEC Championships of senior Rinko Mitsunaga, junior Gabriela Coello and freshmen Jenny Bae, Harmie Constantino and Jo Hua Hung.
The Bulldogs actually began the 2018-19 season on the same golf course, competing in the Mary Fossum Invitational in September. Georgia finished fourth in the 16-team field by shooting 3-over 867. Constantino led the way by finishing fifth individually at 3-under 213, while Mitsunaga and Coello tied for 20th and 22nd, respectively.
“It’s a golf course that fits us really well,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “Gaby, Harmie and Rinko played there in the fall and played very well. You already know your sight lines. Even though there are a couple of blind tee shots, you know where to hit it already. To me, going up there playing well helps too. Now, you have a little more confidence and pep in your step. We’re excited to go there and look forward to the challenge.”
“Our team competed well, and I think the golf course fit us well,” Mitsunaga said. “For three of our five players to know the course a little bit before we get out there is a huge benefit. I know we’re already replaying the golf course in our minds, and we know the kind of shots we need to practice here. I’m very excited.”
Georgia is coming off a pair of third-place finishes at the SEC Championships and the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic over the past two weekends. Last week, the Bulldogs tied for fifth in 54 holes of SEC stroke play qualifying at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham. Georgia then defeated No. 4 Vanderbilt before falling to Ole Miss, the eventual SEC champion, on the 21st hole of the deciding match.
“It’s exciting for sure,” Coello said. “I think we’re going in on a good roll from SECs. I think we picked the right time to start gluing everything together and everyone is playing their best. Starting NCAA play with that momentum from SECs, we’re pretty excited.”
Four Regionals will be held simultaneously to determine the field for the NCAA Championships. In addition to East Lansing, Regionals will be hosted by Auburn (Saugahatchree Country Club in Opelika, Ala.), Oklahoma (Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla.) and Washington (Tumble Creek Golf Club in Cle Elum, Wash.). The low six teams and the low three individuals not on those teams from each regional will advance to the 2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championships, to be held at Blessings Golf Club, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, hosted by the University of Arkansas.
Georgia has a long history of NCAA success. The Bulldogs have finished among the nation’s top-20 teams at the national championships 26 times in the last 39 years, including 20 top-10 efforts and winning the 2001 NCAA title. Individually, Georgia’s Terri Moody, Cindy Schreyer and Vicki Geotze captured medalist honors at the 1981, 1984 and 1992 national championships. All told, Bulldog golfers have produced 36 top-20 finishes at the national championships.