April 25, 2016
By Chris Masters
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In what has become an annual rite of passage for the University of Notre Dame women’s golf program, the Fighting Irish earned their ninth consecutive berth into the NCAA regionals, collecting the No. 10 seed in the 18-team NCAA Birmingham Regional that will be played May 5-7 in Birmingham, Alabama, at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Shoal Creek Club (par 72/6,470 yards). This year’s four NCAA regional fields were announced Monday night during a live national broadcast on the Golf Channel.
Notre Dame will be making the 11th NCAA postseason appearance in the program’s 28-year history, as well as the ninth in head coach Susan Holt’s 10 seasons in South Bend, as the Fighting Irish aim to reach the NCAA Championship finals for the second time in program history and first since 2011. The low six teams in each of the four regionals, as well as the low three individuals on non-advancing teams, will advance to the NCAA Championships, scheduled for May 20-25 at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon.
“I’ve been coaching a long time and I never take getting to regionals for granted, so we’re extremely pleased to be selected,” Holt said. “We’ve had a really good year and I’m happy this group is going to have the chance to achieve one of our main goals when we started out, which was to advance to nationals. That’s an opportunity that’s still in front of us and within our reach.
“Getting to play on a championship-caliber course like Shoal Creek is going to be a real treat,” Holt added. “It’s not a course that’s part of the typical college rotation, so in that respect, there probably won’t much advantage for one team in the regional over another. We’ve had the chance to play on some championship-level courses this year such as Landfall and Sedgefield, and I think Sedgefield in particular should prove to be a good warm-up for Shoal Creek, in that we’ll be challenged to hit quality shots all three rounds.
“We have a lot of depth on this team,” Holt concluded. “I think they were all pretty disappointed with our overall result at the ACC Championship. Now we’ve been given a chance to redeem ourselves, both individually and collectively, and I really believe we’ll be ready for the regional next week.”
Notre Dame’s No. 10 seed marks the third time in four years, and the fifth time in program history (all during Holt’s tenure) that the Fighting Irish have earned a top-10 NCAA regional seed. Last year, Notre Dame earned a No. 8 seed (the highest in program history) and finished in that exact position, six strokes off the cut line to advance to the NCAA finals, while playing host to NCAA regional action for the second time at the award-winning Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus.
The Fighting Irish will be traveling to the state of Alabama for an NCAA regional for the second time in four seasons. In 2013, Notre Dame was the No. 9 seed for the NCAA East Regional at the Auburn University Club in Auburn, Alabama, where the Fighting Irish ended in a tie for 15th place in the then-24-team regional field.
The reigning Southeastern Conference champion (and regional host), Alabama is the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Birmingham Regional, with Big Ten Conference champion Northwestern, Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma State, California and Iowa State rounding out the top five. Two of Notre Dame’s fellow Atlantic Coast Conference schools also earned at-large berths to the NCAA Birmingham Regional, with Florida State claiming the No. 6 seed and Clemson the No. 12 seed.
Collectively, the ACC had 10 teams qualify for NCAA regional play this year, with Duke, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia and Wake Forest also earning postseason bids.
This season, the Fighting Irish have compiled a 295.34 stroke average, which is on pace to set a program single-season record, eclipsing last year’s total of 296.60. What’s more, Notre Dame has finished in the top five in six of 10 tournaments this year and has carded three of the top six 54-hole team scores in school history.
The Fighting Irish also have registered 22 wins this season against teams appearing in the top 50 of the Golfstat rankings, including six victories against top-25 teams, and seven wins against the other teams in this year’s NCAA Birmingham Regional field (most notably logging wins over top-seeded Alabama, No. 3 seed Oklahoma State, No. 6 seed Florida State and ninth-seeded Purdue).
NCAA BIRMINGHAM REGIONAL
May 5-7, 2016
Birmingham, Alabama (Shoal Creek Club)
3. Oklahoma State
5. Iowa State
6. Florida State
10. NOTRE DAME
14. Middle Tennessee
15. New Mexico State
16. Eastern Kentucky
18. Alabama State
The remaining NCAA regional participants, as well as additional information concerning the 2016 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship, can be found at NCAA.com.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s golf program, visit the women’s golf page on the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (UND.com/ndwomensgolf), sign up to follow the Notre Dame women’s golf Twitter page (@NDwomensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s golf and women’s basketball programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).