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ND Women’s Golf: Irish golfers earn NCAA Tourney berth

Michael Blasco | Tuesday, April 29, 2008

After clinching the Big East conference title for the third time in six years, No. 27 Notre Dame was awarded the No. 9 seed in the central region of the NCAA Tournament Monday night. The Irish earned an automatic bid as a result of their conference tournament victory.

The NCAA Central Regional will begin May 8 at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas. This is the second time this spring Notre Dame will play at the University of Texas Golf Club. The Irish turned in a middling fifth-place finish at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in mid-March.

Notre Dame coach Susan Holt said she is confident in her team even though its success this season has been something of a surprise in the collegiate golfing world.

“As a team, at the beginning of the year, we set high goals for ourselves,” Holt said. “People on the outside might be surprised, but we aren’t. We made a commitment to do exactly… what we’re doing. We’re on track.”

The conference title caps an Irish season marked by rousing success. Notre Dame, who opened the fall season with three straight tournament victories, has finished in the top five in nine of 10 tournament appearances this season, with the Big East Tournament win being their fifth first-place finish. The Irish also collected honors at Golf World Magazine’s mid-season awards banquet as they were named the most surprising women’s team while freshman phenom So-Hyun Park was named most surprising women’s player. Park, the No.14 player in the country, has led the Irish with a scoring average of 73.12, a program-record. Park also recorded two first-place finishes this season. Junior captain Lisa Maunu has contributed three podium finishes, including one first-place finish. In total, every Notre Dame golfer has recorded at least one top-ten finish this year. Holt attributes her team’s success to preparation and mental toughness.

“Golf is basically hitting shots and playing holes and managing our game,” Holt said. “We have to get into our mode, that thought process, that comes with managing the course well.”

This year marks the third time in program history the Irish have earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The squad will compete in a field of 21 in the regional tournament for a chance at the NCAA Championship, which will be held May 20-23 in Albuquerque, N.M. Complete seeding for the NCAA Tournament can be found at ncaa.com.