Complete coverage: Opening day of NCAA Women's Regionals
Sierra Brooks (Florida), Pimnipa Panthong (Kent State), Auston Kim (Vanderbilt), Jennifer Chang (USC)
Sierra Brooks (Florida), Pimnipa Panthong (Kent State), Auston Kim (Vanderbilt), Jennifer Chang (USC)

NCAA women’s regionals are 54 holes of high-pressure golf – sometimes ending with bigger upsets and more surprises than the national championship itself. It’s no guarantee that the top teams get to the national championship in this format. Plenty of can’t-miss teams have been on the outside looking in.

Seventy-two teams are divided among four regional sites this week, with play starting Monday, May 6 and ending Wednesday, May 8. Only six teams will advance from each site to set up the 24-team national championship field.

Check AmateurGolf.com daily for a wrap-up of the current day and a breakdown of what to watch for as the week unfolds.

NCAA South Regional (Saugahatchee CC, Auburn, Ala.)

Team leader: Vanderbilt (1-under 287)
Individual leaders: Austin Kim, Vanderbilt; Michaela Williams, Tennessee; Virunpat Olankitkunchai, Maryland (2-under 70)

The hook: The Commodores are light on age but deep in experience, and they’ve won four times this season. This squad really clicks and there’s an urgent season-ending goal: Get. To. Nationals. Vanderbilt last made it as a team in 2014, when they won an NCAA Regional, but with three top-55 players on this squad, it’s surprising they haven’t been back since. Senior leader Courtney Zeng, who came in as a highly recruited freshman in 2015, would like to see it happen before she leaves.

“We’re going to get back on that train,” she said in February.

Coach Greg Allen says: "The girls did a really great job of coming out and taking care of business. Obviously, there's a lot more golf to be played but they've taken just a little bit of the pressure off. We need to continue to stay in the moment, be in control of our emotions and keep doing the things that we're doing."

Read more: Vanderbilt keeps trending upward with UCF Challenge win

If the cut fell today: Vanderbilt, Duke, Florida State, East Carolina, Tennessee and Maryland would be in.

Tomorrow, watch for… Alabama to make a move. The Crimson Tide played for the national title last year, losing in the championship match to Arizona, but have since lost three of their top scorers. Two left at the midway point of the season. Still, Alabama has one of the top players in the country in Jiwon Jeon, but she needs to perform if Alabama is going to advance (Jeon opened with 77 on Monday).

NCAA West Regional (Tumble Creek Club, Cle Elum, Wash.)
Team leader: USC (7-under 281)
Individual leader: Ana Laura Collado, UCF (6-under 66)

The hook: It’s the postseason, and that means its USC’s time to shine. The Trojans have won 12 NCAA regional titles, including one at Tumble Creek in 2014. In Monday’s opening round, USC, coming off of its sixth win of the season at the recent Pac-12 Championships, combined for a 7-under 281. That was three better than second-place Northwestern. It’s not about winning here, but rather advancing. Still, USC isn’t flirting with the cut line at all, having distanced itself from the No. 6 spot by nine shots over the first 18 holes.

If the cut fell today: USC, Northwestern, Washington, Arkansas, San Jose State and UCF would advance.

Tomorrow, watch for… South Carolina to start a comeback. It wasn’t a pretty start for the Gamecocks, a team that finished runner-up at the SEC Championship and won the Liz Murphey Collegiate before that (both match-play events). With that kind of record, South Carolina would have some key experience if it could get to the final eight at the national championship. Of course, it all starts with regionals.

As for a second “to watch,” storyline, keep an eye on UCF. The Knights started strong with a 2-over 290 that left them just inside the bubble. That’s reflective of this season. UCF spent much of the spring on the bubble of making the postseason, but squeezed in and now a determined squad led by head coach Emily Marron can make the most of the opportunity. They sure should have some motivation.

NCAA Central Regional (Jimmie Austin OU GC, Norman, Okla.)

Team leader: Florida (4-under 284)
Individual leader: Michaela Fletcher, Memphis (4-under 68)

The hook: There weren’t a lot of big numbers on Florida cards on Monday, and there were low numbers early. The Gators got off to a hot start with four players making birdie on at least one of their first four holes. It’s a crowded leaderboard in Norman, and after Florida slipped to T7 at the turn, the Gators were able to regain control over the back nine. Three of four counting Florida scores were under par.

If the cut fell today: Florida, North Carolina State, Texas Tech, Texas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State would qualify for the national championship.

Tomorrow, watch for… Wake Forest to have a more Wake Forest-like day. The Demon Deacons are arguably the hottest thing going in women’s college golf this spring. Their ACC title was their third straight tournament victory. Senior Jennifer Kupcho and sophomore Emilia Migliaccio are two of the best players in the country. Scores were low in Norman considering that at 2 over, Wake Forest is currently out of it. The team will need some fireworks to work its way into the pack, and something says it can count on its two leaders for that.

NCAA East Regional (Forest Akers West GC, East Lansing, Mich.)

Team leader: Kent State (6-under 282)
Individual leader: Pimnipa Panthong, Kent State (4-under 68)

The hook: Talking about Kent State each year when postseason rolls around seems like a rehashing of the same points. That’s a positive thing for this team. Last month, Kent State locked up its 21st Mid-American Conference title. The Golden Flashes' conference record is thrown around casually, but think about it for a minute: Kent State hasn’t had a league misstep in over two decades. This season, the team put together the best head-to-head winning percentage against Division I teams in college golf (per Golfweek research).

Kent State’s opening 6-under effort included a 68 from junior Pimnipa Panthong. Senior Michaela Finn’s round of 71 ended on perhaps the best note, though, considering she eagled the par-4 18th hole. (See below.)

Coach Greg Robertson says:

Read more: Kent State is hoping it’s time for the next step (May 2018)

If the cut fell today: Kent State, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State and Campbell would advance.

Tomorrow, watch for… Pac-12 powers UCLA and Stanford to make a move up and out of the Nos. 7 and 8 position on the leaderboard, respectively. A round of 10 over is uncharacteristic for the Cardinal, ranked No. 4 by Golfweek. And after failing to advance to the national championship in 2017 as the No. 1 seed, UCLA knows how serious this week can be.

Results: NCAA Women's Central Regional
T1OKKaitlin MilliganNorman, OK100070-70-68=208
T1IrelandOlivia MehaffeyIreland100069-66-73=208
T3FranceAgathe LaisneFrance50071-68-72=211
T3South AfricaMichaela FletcherSouth Africa50068-70-73=211
T5SwedenElin EsbornSweden50071-70-72=213

View full results for NCAA Women's Central Regional

ABOUT THE NCAA Women's Central Regional

54 hole women's NCAA Regional from which the low teams advance to the NCAA Championship.

View Complete Tournament Information

Latest in 

Amateurgolf.com, Inc.
6965 El Camino Real 105-631
Carlsbad, CA 92009

Instagram X Facebook YouTube