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Women’s Golf Tee Off at NCAA’s

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The No. 8 Commodores tee off today in the Finals

After a record setting seasons, the No. 8 Lady Commodores will tee off at 1:01 PM at the Blessings Golf Course in Fayatteville for the NCAA Championship.

The Course

Blessings is the University of Arkansas’ course, and it was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It is a difficult course, rated at 77.7 with a slope of 144. The fairways are zoisa grass and the greens are bent. That matters, specifically for the greens, because it means they will roll true. Grasses like Bermuda have a lot of grain in them, and local knowledge is compounded on the greens.

For the NCAA Championship, the course will play 6,300 yards as a par-73. It’s rating and slope will most like be lower, but not by much.

The Field

The Commodores will be paired with Stanford and FSU, starting on #10. The fifth seed from each team will tee off first, working to the first seed every 11 minutes.

Stanford is the No. 7 ranked team in the NCAA, and FSU is the 9th. FSU has the top ranked player in the country in Frida Kinhult, and Stanford has the second ranked player, Andrea Lee.

Vanderbilt’s top ranked player is Auston Kim at 37, followed by Abbey Carlson at 40. Courtney Zeng is the three seed for the Dore’s at No. 67. After that Morgan Baxendale and Louise Yu fall outside the 150 rank. The strength of this team is its consistency and depth, earning them a record six wins on the season and a NCAA Regional crown. They have also excelled in match play, outside of a close loss in the SEC Championships.

The ‘Dores have the fifth best adjusted scoring average in the NCAA at 71.93, which is better than FSU’s and Stanford’s ASA by almost half a stroke. Vandy’s average drop score, 77.09, is good for eight in the country and significantly better than FSU’s and Stanford’s, 77.51 and 78.19.

Stanford has two players in the top 20 and all five in the Top150. FSU has three players in the top 70 and their fourth seed ranked 222.

This matters because Vanderbilt will play the course, but they will also against the teams they are paired with. Direct competition factors into the mental side of the stroke play portion of the championship.

The rest of the field is obviously the best in golf. USCw is the team to beat. They have the best scoring average in the country at 71.5 and five players inside the top 30. Texas, the second ranked team, has two players in the top 12 and five in the top 50. Duke has four in the top 50, and Wake Forest has three in the top 32, including the defending NCAA and ANWA Champion.

Arkansas, the No. 10 ranked team is hosting, therefore expect them to use this to their advantage. Although they are not the best ranked team in the field and don’t have the best scoring average or depth, being at home on a course they play daily will give them a greater advantage. I suspect it will vault them into the top five, but USC’s elite skill is too much to overcome.

The Championship will be four rounds of stroke play and then the top 8 teams move on to match play. It is the longest and most comprehensive tournament of the year for any team. Depth, endurance, and poise will come into play, especially for teams’ lower seeded players.