Clemson, S.C. – Clemson’s seventh-seeded women’s golf team begins play at the NCAA Auburn Regional on Monday at 8:50 a.m. Freshman Alexandra Swayne will be Clemson’s first player off the first tee at the par 72 Saugahatchee Country Club that is near the Auburn campus.
Eighteen teams will play 54 holes over three days. The top six teams in the regional in Auburn will advance to the National Championship Tournament in Fayetteville, Arkansas at The Blessings Golf Club, May 17-22.
Clemson’s five players will play with Houston, who is a No. 8 seed, and ninth-seed Kennesaw State. Also in the Clemson lineup will be Gracyn Burgess (9 a.m. tee time), Ivy Shepherd (9:10 a.m.), Ana Paula Valdes (9:20 a.m.) and Alice Hewson (9:30 a.m.). Hewson and Shepherd were both selected to the All-ACC team earlier this week.
Clemson will compete with – Duke, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Auburn, Virginia, Furman, Houston, Kennesaw State, Alabama, Tennessee, Cal, Maryland, East Carolina, Denver, South Alabama, Albany, and Murray State – for the team and individual titles in the Auburn Regional Championships.
While Clemson is the No. 7 seed, Kelley Hester’s team has played well against the other teams in the tournament during the regular season. Clemson has a 9-7 record against the teams seeded three through eight. That includes a 2-1 record against host school Auburn. The only loss was by five shots at the Clemson Invitational, where the third round was canceled due to weather with Clemson in second behind Vanderbilt.
This will be Clemson’s fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, fifth overall appearance in the six years of the program. Last year the Tigers finished in a tie for sixth at the Tallahassee Regional, but did not advance to the national tournament as Wake Forest defeated Clemson by a shot in a playoff.
In 2017, the Tigers finished fifth at the Athens Regional in Georgia and advanced to the NCC National Championship in Chicago where they finished a program best 20th.
The Tigers are led by Hewson, the first Clemson women’s golfer to earn All-ACC four consecutive years. She enters the NCAA Tournament with a 72.15 stroke average, best on the team. She also leads the team this year in top 10 finishes (3), rounds under par (12), and rounds at par or better (14).
Shepherd, a freshman from Peachtree City, Ga. has the second-best stroke average on the team at 72.58. She is one of only 10 freshmen nationally to record a score of 65 or lower. She has a pair of top 10 finishes, six rounds in the 60s and 10 rounds at par or better and is ranked 70th in the nation according to Golfweek.
Shepherd is one of three freshmen in the lineup for Hester and is one of four Power Five Conference Schools with at least three freshmen in the starting lineup. All three have had rounds of 67 or better this year. Burgess and Swayne are the other two freshmen, Burgess with a 74.78 stroke average and Swayne with a 75.93.
Valdes is third on the team in stroke average (72.71) and is one of two veterans at the NCAA Tournament for Hester. The junior from Mexico picked up her first career win at the Battle at the Beach in her home country. She recently had a 20th place finish at the ACC Tournament, best among Clemson golfers. Valdes ranks 10th in the nation in scoring on par three holes and leads the team in rounds in the 60s with seven.