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'This one is going to be special' - Tigers ready for NCAA Championships
Senior Kelli Murphy and head coach Melissa Luellen check the yardage at the par-3 8th hole in the final round of the 2018 NCAA Austin Regional.
Senior Kelli Murphy and head coach Melissa Luellen check the yardage at the par-3 8th hole in the final round of the 2018 NCAA Austin Regional.
May 16, 2018


                
 2017-18 Auburn Women's Golf | NCAA Championships
 Dates  Friday, May 18-Wednesday, May 23
 Location  Karsten Creek Golf Club (Par 72, 6,328/6,247 yards) | Stillwater, Okla.
 Format  54-hole stroke play; four individual scores count toward team total; followed by 8-team match play bracket
 Field  Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, UCLA, Duke, Stanford, Southern California, Furman, Texas, Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, Northwestern, Washington, Kent State, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Florida State, Louisville, Baylor, Virginia, Colorado, Ole Miss, Ohio State
 Online  Live Scoring | Tournament Central | Twitter: @AuburnWGolf | Auburn Season Stats | Tournament Notes
 AU Tee Times  Friday: 7:30 a.m. CT (#1 tee)
 Saturday: 12:10 p.m. CT (#10 tee)
 Sunday-Monday: TBD


Kirkland
Kaleigh Telfer
Freshman
Kyalami, South Africa
(1)
Kirkland
Elena Hualde
Sophomore
Pamplona, Spain
(2)
Kirkland
Kelli Murphy
Senior
Elgin, S.C.
(3)
Kirkland
Michaela Owen
Senior
Suwanee, Ga.
(4)
Kirkland
Kayley Marschke
Sophomore
Suwanee, Ga.
(5)

AUBURN, Ala. -- In season number three at Auburn for women's golf head coach Melissa Luellen, it seems like everything has come together perfectly.

Auburn is in the NCAA Championships for the first time on her watch, the 17th appearance in program history and her 15th as a head coach (twice at Tulsa, 12 times at Arizona State). It just also happens to be the 30th anniversary of Luellen claiming individual medalist honors at the 1988 NCAA Championships. And in June, she and her mother, former Tulsa coach Dale McNamara, will receive the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award, a major honor in their hometown of Tulsa.

Oh, and this year's NCAA Championships are back in her home state of Oklahoma. About an hour west of her hometown of Tulsa, to be precise - Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, hosted by Oklahoma State.

"Selfishly, I really, really wanted to make this national championship," Luellen said. "I want to make it every year, but this one is going to be special. It will be a special thing that my mom and my sister will be able to come to Stillwater and watch the tournament."

Indeed, the Tigers arrived in Oklahoma on Wednesday afternoon, flying into Tulsa and having lunch with McNamara before making the short trek west to Stillwater. It's unfamiliar territory for this group of Tigers - it's been since 2013 since Auburn had an opportunity to play for a national championship.

"You can tell it means so much to her, going back to Oklahoma," sophomore Kayley Marschke said. "She has experience at the national championship, this is the goal, and this is what she came here to do. It means a lot.

"It's something we've been preparing for all year long. It's been five years, so I know we're all super pumped and super prepared. I think that we're going to do really well."

With the national title on the line, the nation's best are ready to descend on the Karsten Creek layout that previously hosted the men's NCAA Championships in 2003 and 2011 - a course that Luellen described as a "beast."

"It's designed to be tough, it's designed to host championships," she said. "Staying below the hole will be a real premium. We'll just have to play smart."

After leading the Tigers with top-20 finishes at both the SEC Championship and the NCAA Regional, freshman Kaleigh Telfer will again be in the top spot in the Tigers' lineup. Four of her last five rounds have been at even par or better, and she finished under par for the first time at the regional to tie for 16th place.

"She has played consistently, played with confidence," Luellen said. "She's grown up a lot. It proves that our future is bright when you have a freshman leading the way."

Sophomore Elena Hualde will play in the No. 2 spot, followed by seniors Kelli Murphy and Michaela Owen, along with Marschke.

For Murphy and Owen, a trip to the national championship for their final collegiate tournament has been a long time coming.

"This is everything we've always wanted in college," Owen said. "This is what I wanted to go to college for, and it's a great way to end my senior year. But we're not thinking about the outcome or what could happen, we're just taking it one day at a time."

Play gets underway at 7:30 a.m. CT Friday. The Tigers will hit the first shot of the tournament on the No. 1 tee, paired with Florida State and Oklahoma for the first two rounds. Live scoring is available at golfstat.com, and fans can follow @AuburnWGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook throughout the week for updates.


 

 

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