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ND Women’s Golf: Nakazaki chosen for NCAA Tournament

Lorenzo Reyes | Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Senior co-captain Noriko Nakazaki was selected Monday for the individual competition at the 2007 NCAA Central Regional, marking the first time the Irish will send an individual golfer to the event.

“It means a lot to me, obviously,” she said. “Last year we weren’t able to qualify for the tournament and it was a big disappointment. However, it just motivated me even more to try and make it this year. I’m still kind of saddened that we didn’t make it as a team, but I’ll try my best to make them proud.”

The three-day tournament is set to start May 10 and will be held at University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The NCAA is divided into three regions, each of which sends 21 teams to their respective regional, and three separate golfers from non-qualifying teams. Next week, these three regionals will take place across the country to establish the national championship field.

In total, 324 golfers are participating, of which 126 will advance to the NCAA finals. Eight teams and two individual golfers will represent each regional in the finals, which will be held May 22-25 at the LPGA International Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Although Nakazaki has never competed in the NCAA regionals as an individual, she has participated in Notre Dame’s only appearances in the tournament in 2004 and 2005 – her first two years as a student-athlete.

In the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Normal, Ill., Nakazaki shot a 20-over-par 233 (80-74-79) over three rounds. The effort led the Irish in scoring, and put her in a tie for 36th out of the field of 108.

As a sophomore, Nakazaki once again paced the team, while shooting a 14-over-par 230 (75-80-75) – good enough for a 37th place tie in Lubbock, Texas.

The senior is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Big East championship out of a field of 33, which helped the Irish claim a second-place finish overall. Her 3-over-par 219 (73-74-72) helped her receive her fourth All-Big East honor of her career.

The co-captain held Notre Dame’s best career scoring mark with a 75.76 average through three seasons. This season, Nakazaki’s scoring average is 74.71, a stroke below her own mark from last year, which was the team’s lowest average ever on a season.

Nakazaki stressed the need to improve her chipping and putting for the regional competition.

“My short game is the key to a successful round, and I need to work on that to do well,” she said.

Although her teammates and coaches will not be with her in Ann Arbor, they will all be cheering her on in spirit with the hopes that she can make it to the NCAA Championships.

“My main objective is to make it to the finals,” Nakazaki said. “Ever since my freshman year it has been our goal to make it to the final round. It makes me proud that I will be representing Notre Dame, representing my coaches and teammates, so I want to perform my best.”