AUSTIN, Texas – Four Tigers recorded final rounds at even par or better Wednesday, leading the 19th-ranked Auburn women’s golf team to a tie for third place at the NCAA Austin Regional and a berth in the NCAA Championships next week.
The Tigers shot 286 (-2) as a team in the final round at the UT Golf Club, one of just three team rounds under par on the day, and finished at 869 (+5) for the week, nine shots clear of the cut line to head to the finals in Stillwater, Okla.
“This is awesome,” Auburn head coach Melissa Luellen said. “(In my coaching career) this ranks up there pretty high. As a coach, when you see progress, when you see improvement – and we’ve seen it every year – it’s so satisfying. I know they could have played even better today, but their potential is continuing to grow. Just watching them start to believe in themselves.”
It will be Auburn’s 17th all-time appearance at the NCAA Championships and their first since 2013. For the Tigers’ seniors, a trip to nationals has been a long time coming.
“We’re so excited,” senior Michaela Owen said. “I honestly didn’t even look at the scoreboard today. But I looked after we finished, and I’m like, ‘Wow, we made it!’ But a lot of it goes out to our underclassmen. They’ve been incredible. They are really talented. It’s a full-team effort, and everybody showed up.”
It was Auburn’s underclassmen leading the way on the final day and throughout the week. Freshman Kaleigh Telfer and sophomore Kayley Marschke turned in Auburn’s best rounds of the day with 1-under-par 71s. Telfer made 14 pars on the day, but made the shot of the tournament for the Tigers on the par-5 ninth hole when she pitched in her third shot from the fairway for eagle to move to 2-under. She would make bogey at the 10th, but finish with all pars from there to earn a tie for 16th place at 1-under for the week.
Marschke recorded her best round of the last three tournaments with a 71 that featured five birdies. She got as low as 2-under after three birdies and a bogey in her first seven holes, but dropped back to even after a bogey at the 12th. From there, though, she was bogey-free over her final six holes with a birdie at 14 to finish under par for the fifth time this season.
Sophomore Elena Hualde finished off a strong week with an even-par 72 to finish at even par for the week and in a tie for 19th place. She was on fire early with three birdies in her first five holes, then made the turn at 2-under. She got it back to 3-under with birdie at 14, but bogeyed three of the last four holes to finish at even par.
Owen turned in her best round of the week, finishing with an even-par 72 on the day. She was 1-over after 11 holes, but rolled in a birdie at the 18th to finish off her round. Kelli Murphy shot a final-round 78 to go along with 72-73 in her first two rounds, finishing in a tie for 42nd place.
The Tigers will join Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Baylor and Oklahoma as the six advancing teams from the Austin Regional. Arkansas claimed the regional title at 26-under.
The NCAA Championships begin next Friday, May 18, at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. Stroke play for the 24 advancing teams runs Friday-Sunday, then the field is cut to the top 15 teams for the final round of stroke play on Monday. Following that, the top eight remaining teams square off in match play on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22-23.
For the latest on Auburn women’s golf, follow @AuburnWGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Final results from the NCAA Austin Regional, hosted by Texas at the University of Texas Golf Club (par 72, 6,341 yards) in Austin, Texas:
Final Team Standings
1. Arkansas – 838 (-26)
2. Texas – 849 (-15)
T3. Auburn – 869 (+5)
T3. Florida – 869 (+5)
T3. Baylor – 869 (+5)
6. Oklahoma – 870 (+6)
----Top 6 teams advance----
7. Texas A&M – 878 (+14)
8. Michigan State – 882 (+18)
9. BYU – 885 (+21)
10. Virginia Tech – 888 (+24)
11. Houston – 890 (+26)
12. UTSA – 892 (+28)
13. Texas Tech – 899 (+35)
14. Houston Baptist – 910 (+46)
15. Miami – 914 (+50)
16. Georgetown – 917 (+53)
17. Missouri State – 946 (+82)
--. East Carolina (WD)
T16. Kaleigh Telfer – 73-71-71=215 (-1)
T19. Elena Hualde – 73-71-72=216 (E)
T42. Kelli Murphy – 72-73-78=223 (+7)
T42. Kayley Marschke – 74-78-71=223 (+7)
T47. Michaela Owen – 76-76-72=224 (+8)