Women's Golf takes momentum into NCAA play
May 1, 2012
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
The Texas Women’s Golf team has advanced to its fifth-consecutive postseason under head coach Martha Richards, and the Longhorns take with them momentum and confidence from the final day of the Big 12 Championship.
Last Sunday in Kansas, UT started the final round 15 strokes behind leader Oklahoma, but the Longhorns surged from sixth to second place with a field-best round of 8-over par.
“We were going out chasing instead of being hunted,” junior Haley Stephens said. “That was our positive spin on that last round.”
The Longhorns ultimately finished seven strokes behind the Sooners, and Stephens credits that deficit to the first round, when the Longhorns were doomed with four rounds of 81 or higher.
“We played fairly consistent the second and third day, but that first day killed us,” Stephens said.
Vandermade, who earned her first individual collegiate victory last fall at the Betsy Rawls Invitational, finished in sixth place overall and was one of just two players to card a under-par round of 69 in the 54-hole event.
Stephens carried UT on the final day of competition, through a weather-induced shotgun start and two more weather delays, with an even-par 70. After the round, Richards collected Stephens in a golf cart, and the two headed to the clubhouse.
Because there were no scoreboards on the course, Stephens had no idea how the Longhorns collectively fared on the final day. When it was revealed the Longhorns moved up to second place, Stephens was looking for her coach’s reaction before reacting herself.
“My behavior was based on what she was going to say, and she was very upbeat about our strong finish. She said, ‘You know, we fought hard,’” Stephens said. “The way we finished was key, and that’s positive reinforcement for us.”
The Longhorns now head to State College, Pa., on May 10-12 for the NCAA East Regional Championship at the Penn State Blue Course. UT is one of 24 teams in the 54-hole regional, which also includes No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Arizona State and No. 6 Duke. Conference foes Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are also bound for Pennsylvania.
The top eight teams and top two individuals not playing on the eight advancing teams will move on to the NCAA Championships later this month. UT has advanced to the championship in four of their past five regional appearances.
“We know we can fight hard,” Stephens said. “There are good vibes. The chemistry on our team is strong.”