May 20, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
One of their top golfers didn't play for three months as she dealt with her mother's illness. Their assistant coach left the team early in the season to deal with a medical condition. Their head coach was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly before the NCAA regionals.
But here they are, this resilient Auburn women's golf team, ready to tee off Tuesday in the NCAA Championships at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
Auburn has come a long way, first emotionally and then competitively, especially after a slow start to the season and a first-round score on their home course at the NCAA East Regional last week that almost ended their season right then and there. But the Tigers rallied in the final two rounds and now find themselves among the 24 teams battling for the national title at Georgia.
Auburn knows the course as a regular at Georgia's Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, where the Tigers finished third in October.
"I think we have the momentum going now and our confidence level is much higher than it was," said Marta Sanz.
It's been a roller-coaster season.
"Seeing our results — last place, last place — we were just hoping to make it to regionals," remembered Carlie Yadloczky. "I think it was a shock because we never thought we'd make it to regionals, but we're our confidence is really booming right now.
"We've come back from a really bad season."
It's been difficult, but, "I think it's just made us stronger," said Yadloczky.
The physical part was only half of Auburn's game. Their coach, Kim Evans, learned she has ovarian cancer just days before the regional. She plans to be with her team at Georgia.
"Coach is with us all the time in our hearts. We're fighting for her. She's still there. We have her wisdom in our heads," said Marta.
"I'm proud of them," Evans said "They're a gutsy team."
This is Auburn's 16th appearance in the NCAA Championships, and the 14th with Evans.
Early-risers will find the tournament starts at 6:30 a.m., Auburn time. The Tigers will tee off between 7:36 and 8:20.
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