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Notebook: NCAA Women's Championship field size; Davis to Auburn; the big decision
29 Nov 2022
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

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Trinity Forest will host two USGA events
Trinity Forest will host two USGA events

The NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Committee announced Monday that the championship finals field size will increase to allow for 27 qualifying teams, up from the current number of 24 qualifying teams. The change will be in effect for the 2023 championships, with the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships taking place at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 19-24.

According to the NCAA, the move to 27 teams for the women’s championship is being made to provide an equitable championship access ratio across both Division I men’s and women’s golf, with ten percent of both men’s and women’s teams now advancing from regionals to the site of the finals. Currently, 30 teams advance to the finals in Division I men’s golf.

As a result of the decision, four teams will advance to the finals from three regional sites and five teams will advance from the remaining three regional sites. The championship committee will implement a strength-of-field metric to even out the competition across the six regional qualifying sites.

“There is extreme importance in providing as many participation opportunities as possible for our student-athletes,” said Bradford Hurlbut, chair of the Div. I Women’s Golf Committee and director of athletics at Fairleigh Dickinson. “With an additional three teams qualifying for the finals site, up to an additional 18 deserving women’s golf student-athletes will have an opportunity to compete in the national championship finals, which is an important step for the sport of women’s golf and the championship.”

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SIX AMATEURS TURN PRO FOR LPGA Q-SERIES: Of the 37 amateurs in the field at Stage II of LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament earlier this month in Venice, Fla., eight qualified for the two-week LPGA Q Series, which begins on Thursday at Magnolia Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Ala.

New rules stipulated amateurs who qualified from the final stage must turn professional to compete in the Q Series, leaving the eight qualifying players with a big decision to make regarding their future. Nataliya Guseva (Miami), Minji Kang (Truett McConnell), Ashley Lau (Michigan), Heather Lin (Oregon), Valery Plata (Michigan State) and Natthakritta Vongtaveela decided to forgo their amateur status to compete this week in Mobile, while qualifiers Jenny Bae (Georgia) and Cynthia Lu (Oregon) decided to continue with their respective collegiate careers but still receive status on the Epson Tour.

The first half of Q-Series begins on Nov. 28 at Magnolia Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Ala. The top 70 finishers and ties from Mobile will advance to Highland Oaks Golf Course in Dothan, Ala. for the final 72 holes of qualifying.

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ANNA DAVIS COMMITS TO AUBURN: Auburn women's head coach Melissa Luellen received an early Christmas present last week when she learned 2022 Augusta National Women's Amateur champion Anna Davis gave a verbal commitment to play for the Tigers in the fall of 2024. According to the AJGA rankings, Davis is the second-ranked player in the Class of 2024 and is also ranked seventh in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). After winning the AJGA PING Heather Farr Classic and the Girls' Junior PGA Championship last year, the bucket hat-wearing left-hander outdueled LSU teammates Ingrid Lindblad and Latanna Stone to win the ANWA last April.

Whether she actually tees it up for the Tigers remains to be seen as she has mentioned she is leaving her options open before the official signing period which is a year away. The Auburn men's program also received a verbal commitment from Davis' twin brother, Billy.

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IZZI STRICKER STAYS CLOSE TO HOME, CHOOSES WISCONSIN: Izzi Stricker, the youngest daughter of Steve and Nicki Stricker, has given a verbal commitment to play collegiate golf at Wisconsin for head coach Todd Oehrlein beginning in the fall of 2024. The Stricker family has deep ties to the University. Nicki Stricker was a standout player for the Badgers while her grandfather, Dennis Tiziani, served as head coach of Wisconsin's men's (1977-2003) and women's (1989-2003) teams. The Stricker's oldest daughter, Bobbi, played four seasons for the Badgers before turning professional.

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TRINITY FOREST LANDS A PAIR OF USGA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Trinity Forest Golf Club, in Dallas, Texas, has been chosen by the USGA as the host site for the 2025 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and the 2031 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Scheduled for July 21-26, 2025, the 77th U.S. Junior Amateur will be the club’s first USGA championship. The U.S. Girls' Junior will be staged July 14-19, 2031.

Located 10 miles southeast of downtown Dallas, Trinity Forest, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, has hosted several prestigious events for both amateurs and professionals in its short history. It was the site of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson in 2018 (won by Aaron Wise) and 2019 (won by Sung Kang) and has twice hosted U.S. Amateur qualifying. The club is also home to the Southern Methodist University men’s and women’s golf teams and has held an annual NCAA invitational tournament since 2017. In 2023, Trinity Forest will host the Jackson T. Stephens Cup. Courtesy of the USGA

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OKLAHOMA CITY GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB LANDS 2025 WAFB: The USGA announced the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, in Nichols Hills, Okla., has been chosen as the host site of the 2025 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which is scheduled to be played May 10-14. The club also hosted the 1953 U.S. Amateur, when future U.S. Open champion Gene Littler defeated Dale Morey, 1 up, in the final match. Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club has also held qualifiers for the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.

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ALCOTT NAMED UNITED STATES PING JUNIOR SOLHEIM CUP CAPTAIN: PING and the American Junior Golf Association named World Golf Hall of Famer, Amy Alcott as the PING Junior Solheim Cup’s United States team captain for the 13th edition of the biennial competition to be contested at the Old Course at La Zagaleta, located in southern Spain, Sept. 18-19, 2023.

“This is a wonderful honor. When I got the call from John Solheim, I was very flattered,” Amy Alcott said. “I have always believed that junior golf is the lifeblood of the game. I grew up chipping and putting into soup cans in my front yard in Southern California and competed in junior tournaments from the age of 9 to 17.”

Over the course of her 27-year professional career, Alcott won 32 individual titles that included 29 LPGA victories and five major championships. She was a three-time champion of the now Chevron Championship and made tradition the now famous jump into Poppies Pond at Mission Hills Country Club with her win in 1988.

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MASS GOLF ANNOUNCES IT PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: Mass Golf recently named its Players of the Year for 2022 and this year's award winners include a handful of first-timers, including Anne Marie Tobin Women's Player of the Year Award winner Megan Buck, of Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton. For the third time in four years, Matt Parziale, also of Thorny Lea GC, has earned the Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year Award giving him eight total. He is now one shy of the record held by Frank Vana, Jr. The Mass Golf Girls’ Junior Amateur Player of the Year Award is staying in the Smith household. One year after her younger sister Molly Smith earned the award, Morgan Smith earned the award after winning the pulled-off a rare feat of capturing the Mass Women’s Amateur Championship and the New England Women’s Amateur Championship titles in the same season. Ryan Downes, who was both the youngest finalist in Mass Amateur history and the youngest winner of the Ouimet Tournament, was named the winner of the Christopher Cutler Rich Junior Player of the Year.

ARKANSAS WELL-REPRESENTED AT VISA ARGENTINA OPEN: Mateo Fernández de Oliveira (Buenos Aires), Manuel Lozada (Córdoba) and Segundo Oliva Pinto (Córdoba) of the Arkansas men's team will return to their homeland this week to participate in the VISA Open de Argentina at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Nordelta Golf Club in Buenos Aires. Established in 1905, the Argentine Open is the seventh-oldest national open still in existence, behind The Open Championship, the India Open, the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, the South African Open and the RBC Canadian Open. The winner will receive an exemption to the Open Championship in July.

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TIP OF THE WEEK

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TOURNAMENT TRACKER: December is a sneaky busy month for amateur golfers. Here are just a few tournaments we'll be covering over the next few weeks.

Golfweek Senior Tournament of Champions; Nov. 29-Dec. 1; PGA National Resort & Spa; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The Golfweek Senior Tournament of Champions is a 54 hole, medal play event featuring Seniors (55-64), Super Seniors (65-69), and Legends (70+) Divisions. Last year, Gene Elliott held off Jerry Gunthorpe to win his second straight Golfweek Senior Tournament of Champions title.

AmateurGolf.com 2022 Christmas Classic presented by Callaway Golf; Dec. 3-4; Del Monte Golf Course; Monterey, Calif.
The Christmas Classic was founded by two-time California State Amateur Champion Casey Boyns and annually kicks off AmateurGolf.com's Winter Series. Scott Raber went wire-to-wire to win last year's event.

Society of Seniors Ralph Bogart Tournament; Dec. 6-8; North Palm Beach (Fla.) CC
This 54-hole stroke play event open to members of the Society of Seniors Golf Association. There will be senior, super senior, legends, grand master and super grand master divisions. Last year, Rusty Strawn carded rounds of 71-68-70 at the Crown Colony Golf Club in Fort Myers, Fla., to post a winning score of 7-under 209, which was good for a six-shot victory over his closest pursuer, Brian Keenan.

Dixie Senior & Mid-Master Invitational; Dec. 9-11; Eagle Trace Golf Club; Coral Springs, Fla.
The senior version of the Dixie Amateur Championship added a Mid-Master division starting in 2019. The 54-hole stroke play, no cut event features Mid-Master (ages 40- 54), Senior (ages 55-64) and Super Senior (65+) Divisions. The tournament has long drawn some of the country's top senior golfers to South Florida, with Doug Hanzel (2013-2014, 2017); Brady Exber (2012); and Rick Woulfe (an amazing 7 titles, his latest in 2015) included among the past champions.

AmateurGolf.com San Diego Amateur (North) presented by Callaway Golf; Dec. 12-13; Aviara Golf Club; Carlsbad, Calif.
The second stop on AmateurGolf.com's Winter Series returns to Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, site of the LPGA's Kia Classic played in March.

Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup; Dec. 14-16; Jacaranda Golf Club; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Now in its fourth year, the Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup is a tournament within a tournament. Champions will be crowned in each division while at the same time two teams, one captained by current U.S. Senior Amateur Champion, Rusty Strawn, and the other by 2019 Golfweek senior player of the year, Craig Hurlbert, will do battle for the overall Challenge Cup trophy. Members of each team will be selected by captains pick and blind draw.

Dixie Amateur 2022 Men's Invitational; Dec. 15-18; Eagle Trace Golf Club; Coral Springs, Fla.
This historic Florida amateur golf tournament is open to former Dixie Amateur champions, tournament committee invitees and qualifiers for major amateur championships. The Dixie has a traditionally strong field due to college break, and a past-champions list that includes many PGA Tour players as well as top-ranked amateurs.

Dixie Amateur 2022 Women's Invitational; Dec. 15-18; Palm Aire Country Club; Sarasota, Fla.
A World AmateurGolf Ranking (WAGR) points event, the Dixie Amateur Women's Invitational is held on the west coast of Florida at Palm Aire Country Club in Sarasota. Last year, LSU's Latanna Stone fired a 4-under final round 67 to finish at 9-under 275 to earn a four-stroke over Reagan Zibilski.

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