INDIANAPOLIS – The University of Colorado will continue its season at the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Regionals. The Buffaloes received one of 44 at large bids to the regional tournaments, considered the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Championships competition.
CU, who will be sending the team or an individual to the regionals for a fourth consecutive year, will compete as the No. 17 seed in the Central Regional at the 6,200-yard, par-72 Karsten Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. from May 8-10.
“We played Oklahoma State’s golf course, Karsten Creek before, when we were in the Big 12,” CU head coach Anne Kelly said. “It’s probably one of the hardest courses I’ve ever seen in my career in golf. It’s definitely a good test of golf, but I think that works to our advantage because I don’t think it’s going to be a birdie-fest. We’re not a team that makes a whole lot of birdies. Our team is a fairly long-hitting team. I think of all the locations, that works well for us.”
The Buffs’ region includes fellow Pac-12 opponents UCLA, Arizona and California (all of whom rank in Golfstat’s most recent top 35) and former Big 12 foes Kansas, Texas and host team Oklahoma State. Additionally, Texas Tech’s Kimmie Hill will be competing as an individual.
The top eight teams and two individuals from each of the three regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships Finals, held at the Tulsa Country Club from May 20-23 in Tulsa, Okla.
Going into the tournament with the ups and downs of the regular season behind them and with prior knowledge of the course helps Kelly know what her team has to do to have success at regionals and have the possibility of advancing to the NCAA Championships. Kelly says it’s a difficult time, with the team also taking its final exams during the week of regionals, but believes the Buffs can find the right balance.
“We’ve got to work on our shots into the green,” Kelly said. “Those greens are very difficult, and you have to get the ball on the right level or the right section of the green. I think we need to work on just planning our shots on the green and making sure that they get the ball in the right place on the green. We need to work on putting. Quite honestly, the first two rounds at Pac-12s, we were probably four or five shots out of where we should have been in those scores, and that’s mainly due to the 3-putts that we had. If we can eliminate a lot of the 3-putts, do a little bit better with our approach shots to the green and continually work on our wedges – we just need to get better and a little more accurate with our wedge play.”
Facing eight teams ranked in the Golfstat top 35 at last weekend’s Pac-12 Championships, the Buffs failed to find the rhythm that had helped them to three straight top 8 finishes, including a third place performance at March’s Clover Cup, to end the spring season. Kelly says she felt the team was on the right side of the bubble heading into the conference championships, but was a little worried after the Buffs had their worst round of the season on Sunday. She not only felt relief when Colorado popped up as one of the first teams announced, but also felt excitement for her two seniors, Jenny and Kristin Coleman.
“First and foremost, I’m really happy for Jenny and Kristin,” Kelly said. “I definitely wanted them to get the chance to play postseason again, so that was good.”
Jenny Coleman, who was recently named an All-Pac-12 honorable mention, will be experiencing her fourth NCAA Regional, marking the program-record 47th event of her career. Coleman is the only Buff to make it to regionals every year of her college career.
As a freshman, Coleman helped the No. 31 Buffs to an 18th place finish at the East Regional. In 2012, Colorado had its best season ever. The No. 10 Buffs finished fourth and Coleman tied for 10th at the West Regional, to qualify for its first ever NCAA Championship, where it ended its season in 18th place. Last season, Coleman competed as an individual, placing 33rd.
Coleman has had one of the best careers in CU history and looks to further extend her program records of 325 birdies and 1,476 pars. Coleman had an impressive end to the regular season, posting three straight top-14 finishes heading into the Pac-12 Championships.
Kelly is proud of the growth her team has shown in the 2013-14 season, especially the strides they have made from last year.
“We’ve been through our ups and downs of course, but I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Kelly said. “It’s a big improvement for basically the same team as last year. We have only had really one new player, Natalie (Vivaldi) playing for us, and she’s been switching in and out with Allie Zech. It’s a big improvement for basically the same team. It just shows how hard they’re working.
“That’s kind of what we do here. We get these under the radar players that have talent, and hopefully they come in and they listen and work really hard. We’re lucky to have Brent (Franklin), our assistant coach. This is kind of a ‘blue collar’ type program. The USCs and UCLAs of the world are located in an area where they can get the top 20 in the country or the world.”
One of those “under the radar” golfers will join the Buffs next season. While the Buffs are at regionals, soon-to-be freshman Brittany Fan will be competing in an LPGA event – the North Texas Shootout. Fan shot an impressive 68 in one of her qualifying rounds.