NORMAN, Okla. – After a seven-year hiatus from postseason play, the Mississippi State women’s golf team is set to tee off in the NCAA Central Regional on Thursday at the par-72, 6,298-yard Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course.
This marks MSU’s sixth postseason appearance with the last coming in the 2006 East Regional hosted by North Carolina at the Bryan Park Golf Club in Browns Summit, N.C. Current Lady Bulldog assistant coach Leigh Phillips appeared as a freshman in that regional.
Third-year head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm will be making her first postseason appearance in her five-year coaching career.
“The opportunities ahead of this team are countless,” Brown-Lemm said. “I feel like we are playing some of our best golf of the year right now, which is all you can ask for going into the postseason. There are 24 teams in this regional. All of them have to play the same course in the same conditions, regardless of seed, so we have just as good of shot as anyone else here at making the Championship. We have already performed in the toughest of fields at the SEC’s and finished tied for fifth. This is no different.”
The Lady Bulldogs posted one of their best seasons in program history, breaking the school’s single-season scoring average record (301.33) by 4.15 strokes and single-season birdies record (299). They have also managed to post a Top 10 finish in all 10 events this season, which is also a school best.
Brown-Lemm’s travel squad remains unchanged since the Mercedes Benz Women’s Collegiate Championship on Oct. 12-14.
Fresh off her All-SEC First Team selection, Ally McDonald enters the tournament boasting the most impressive season in Maroon and White history. She set the school record for lowest tournament card versus par (-6, 210) en route to shattering the program’s all-time single-season record for scoring average (72.70) by 1.50 strokes.
The sophomore is the only Lady Bulldog with postseason experience as she made the 2012 NCAA West Regional in Erie, Co., as an individual, finishing tied for 49th.
Fellow sophomores Rica Tse and Elena Warren fortify the MSU lineup. Tse holds the No. 2 spot after posting a Top 10 card in the talent-packed SEC Championships just two weeks ago. Her 12-over-par 228 earned her a share of eighth place, just two shots back of third-place McDonald.
Warren looks to return to her mid-spring form when she notched the three lowest tourney totals of her career. Her 223 in the SunTrust Gator Invitational remains her career best, while the Austin native also posted a 227 and 229.
Mary Langdon Gallagher also turned in a Top 20 showing in the conference championships with a 231. She tied for 19th after posting back-to-back 75’s to open the event. The junior from Greenwood continues to have the best season of her career as her 77.83 average clip is 1.10 strokes better than her career average.
Freshman Gabi Oubre’ looks to cap her successful rookie campaign with another solid outing in the Sooner State. The Mobile native posted the fourth-lowest scoring average (76.90) in recorded freshman history.
Third-ranked Duke is the No. 1 seed in the 24-team field, while No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 9 Florida, No. 10 Washington, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 16 UC Davis, No. 21 Texas Tech, No. 24 Michigan State, No. 33 Southern Methodist, No. 34 Campbell, No. 39 Coastal Carolina, No. 41 Wake Forest, No. 45 TCU and No. 46 Gonzaga round of other teams in GolfStat.com’s Top 50. The rest of the field includes UTSA, Indiana, Wisconsin, Lamar, Illinois State, Detroit and Butler.
The top eight teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga. The top two players on a non-advancing team will also qualify for the finals as individuals.