LAWRENCE, Kan. -(kuathletics.com) For the first time in school history, the Kansas women's golf team was chosen for an at-large bid to an NCAA Regional Tournament Monday. The selection marked KU's first postseason team appearance in an NCAA Tournament since 1990.
Kansas is the 14th seed in the 24-team NCAA Central Regional to be played at Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla., May 8-10. The top eight finishing teams from the regional will advance to the NCAA Championship in Tulsa, Okla., May 20-23.
"I'm really proud of the young ladies and the coaching staff," Kansas Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger said. "These were the goals we talked about three years ago and they have certainly moved the bar higher and we couldn't be prouder of them."
Historically, NCAA Regional play in women's golf began in 1992-93. Until Monday Kansas has never been selected for an NCAA Regional, yet has had at-large individuals compete. KU's only team appearance in the NCAA Tournament was in 1990 when the Jayhawks won the Big Eight Conference Championship, under then head coach Brad Demo, and was automatically entered into the national tourney (i.e. before NCAA Regionals began).
"We've just made history and qualified for an NCAA Regional for the first time as a team," Kansas 10th-year head coach Erin O'Neil said. "They really made their mind up to do it. I think our trip to Ireland (August 2013) helped bring the cohesion together and they decided we were going to do it. They worked hard day-in and day-out and really believed in themselves. They owned it. It wasn't my dream, it was their dream."
"We thought we were going to go last year but that didn't happen," Kansas senior Meghan Potee said. "We are making school history and it feels so good going out like this during my senior year. The whole team is pumped. Everyone is just thrilled."
Kansas is coming off a tie for fourth at the Big 12 Championship (April 26-28) where the Jayhawks battled three days against six top-50 teams. The Jayhawks ended the event with their best round of the weekend, 294 (+6), giving them a Big 12 Championship total of 886 (+22) and their best conference finish since 1992 when they placed third at the Big Eight Championship.
"It's the first time for us and it's an amazing feeling," said KU sophomore Yupaporn Kawinpakorn who finished in a tie for second at the 2014 Big 12 Championship. "We have been so ready for this. We believe in ourselves. Sometimes it's hard to predict what's going to happen but we are happy to be where we are at. I wouldn't celebrate just yet. Our job is still far from done. We have to practice and keep everything on track and stay focused."
KU's fourth-place at the Big 12 Championship was its ninth top-five placing of the 2013-14 season. Of those nine outcomes KU won two tournaments: the Marilynn Smith Invitational (Sept. 23-24) and the Palmetto Intercollegiate (Oct. 27-28).
"We had a very strong fall," O'Neil said. "We won two tournaments and finished in the top five in each event and our stroke average was around 295. I knew if we kept doing that, we would be in really good shape; and we did."
Karsten Creek measures 6,200 yards with a par 72 for the NCAA Central Regional. Teams will practice on May 7, the day prior to the three-round tourney which consists of 18 holes each day.
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