“You ain’t played nobody,” is the common refrain in the SEC when other teams try to claim a high ranking without the bona fides to do so. Maybe the contrary is true here for the Commodores.
The Women’s Golf Team is currently ranked #19 in Golf Stat’s national ranking. It’s worth noting that the rankings are not predictive. They are results oriented, that collect and weight comparative record, best scoring average, and best average drop score against the nation and against the Top25.
So in the Fall, the Vanderbilt Women’s Team was the 19th best in the country, despite winning two tournaments.
Northrup Grummon Challenge
They kick off their season this weekend at the Northrup Grummon Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates, CA. It’s technically hosted by Ohio State, but that’s a long way from Columbus.
The Field includes: Ohio State, UF (9), Arizona (7), Pepperdine, Oregon (17), Stanford (6), Duke (12), UCLA, USCw (5), Texas (1), Arizona State (2), Wake Forest (4), Auburn, Washington, and Kent State (3).
I’m no math major but those are some pretty low numbers. I’ll step out on a limb and explain why I think Vanderbilt will have a good showing.
Last year, the team won five tournaments. Five. Then they finished in the Quarters of the SEC Championships, and won the NCAA South Regional. The made the stroke play of the NCAA’s but failed to reach match play.
Individually, they rode the scores of Auston Kim, Abbey Carlson, Morgan Baxendale, Louise Yu, and Courtney Zeng. Their only loss from last year’s team is Zeng.
They return four of their top five golfers. Kim and Carlson are 19th and 59th ranked WAGR players. Anybody else the 19th best at what they do in the world? Yu and Baxendale are 209 and 290. But what’s important about Baxendale, in particular, is the way she plays when the chips are down. She was 3-under at the NCAA Regional, the second best Vanderbilt golfer, and seven shots better than her next teammate.
Additionally, Kim and Baxendale went on to play in the US Am, while Kim qualified for the US Open.
Most recently, Carlson and Kim were extended invites to the 2nd annual Augusta National Women’s Am.
In short, the core four are continually improving on their games. Let’s see if the freshmen can add to it.
They have four very good golfers, two are top 60 in the world. Head Coach Greg Allen has brought in three freshmen who can score.
- Celina Rose Sattlekau is our of Germany and is ranked 460 in the WAGR (That’s not uncommon for freshmen to have higher scores because most are junior players- and the WAGR is calculated on the strength of field against all Ams). Sattlekau was the best U-18 golfer in Germany and top ten in Europe. Her highest WAGR ranking was 241, and she won the 2018 English Girls Open- the equvalent of the US Women’s Junior Am. Her best round in the Fall was 71 at the Windy City Championship and best 54 hole total was +4.
- Jalna Choi doesn’t have a WAGR ranking, but earned a 15th ranking in the US Junior Rankings. She also was a member Team USA in the 2015 Evian Championships (a team event put on by one of the LPGA majors). Her best round in the Fall was 71 at the Mason Rudolph.
- Lastly, Tess Davenport. She was the second best golfer in Georgia and ranked 364 in the US Juniors rankings. Her best Fall score was 75 and 54 hole score was +13 at the Mason Rudolph.
We’ll find out real quick if the Women’s team can hang with the best in the NCAA. The Fall is over, the freshmen have adjusted. They just need one good score from a freshmen to make them a viable team to make a deep run into the post season.
I’d lean towards Sattlekau, because of her pedigree. Choi strikes me as someone who can go low when she is comfortable. Golf isn’t a game where you feel comfortable, but it is a game that lets scorers go low no matter where they are.
It should be a fun year.