Clemson, S.C.—Clemson’s women’s golf team received a bid to the NCAA Tournament Monday evening. It is the second time the program has received a bid in its three years. The Tigers will play at Shoal Creek, a Jack Nicklaus designed course near Birmingham, Ala. The number-one ranked team in the nation, Alabama, will serve as host.
The Tigers, seeded 12th in the field of 18 teams, have finished the spring strong with a third-place at the Briar’s Creek Invitational, a fifth-place at the Clemson Invitational and a sixth-place at the ACC Championship. Coach J.T. Horton’s team is a combined 30-11 against the field in those three tournaments. For the year Clemson has five top five finishes in nine tournaments.
Clemson must have another strong performance, as only the top six teams in the 18-team field will move on to the NCAA National held May 20-25 at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. Alabama, Northwestern, Oklahoma State and California are the top four seeds at the regional at Shoal Creek.
“We are excited to be back in the NCAA Tournament,” said Horton. “We feel good about the way we finished the season and I think we are peaking at the right time of the year. With just six of the 18 teams advancing to the national tournament, we will have to play well. We are a young team with four freshmen and sophomores in the lineup. We are looking to build from this experience and sustain success.”
Clemson will play a young lineup, one that features two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. Alice Hewson has the top stroke average with a 73.11 figure, currently second best in the three years the Tigers have had a program. The native of England has a pair of victories on her resume and three top 10s overall. She was the ACC Player of the Month in September.
Lauren Stephenson has just three more strokes than Hewson in the same amount of rounds (27) this season. The freshman from Lexington, S.C. had a victory at the Yale Intercollegiate in the fall and four rounds in the 60s, best on the team. Stephenson also leads the team in rounds at par or better with 12.
Sophomores Marisa Messana and Sydney Legacy have also played well of late. Messana had a 19th place finish at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, tied for the best finish among the Clemson women. Her 75.33 stroke average is third best this year. Legacy is a junior college transfer who has finished in the top 25 in each of her last two tournaments and has a 76.75 stoke average for the year. She also finished 19th at the ACC Tournament.
Junior Jessica Hoang is the only player in Clemson’s lineup with NCAA Tournament experience. The three year starter played in the 2014 Regional in Suncadia, Wash, that year. This year Hoang has a 76.05 stroke average for 20 rounds.
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