May 12, 2012
ERIE, Colo. - The best postseason round in Pepperdine women's golf history propelled the Waves to a third-place finish at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday, sending the squad to the NCAA Championships for the 11th time.
Behind outstanding efforts by freshman Somin Lee (5-under), sophomore Grace Na (3-under) and sophomore Liv Cheng (1-under), the Waves posted a third-round score of a 9-under 279 at the par-72 Colorado National Golf Course. The 9-under ties the fifth-best 18-hole score in Pepperdine history.
After starting the day in seventh place with a slim hold on one of the crucial top-eight spots, the Waves were in no danger of missing the cut after getting off to a good start in the morning and continuing to add birdies throughout the day. Pepperdine finished with an 11-over 875 (297-299-279) and wound up just two strokes behind the co-champions, UCLA and LSU.
The previous best round in a postseason event was a 7-under at the first round of the 2010 NCAA East Regional. It tied the best round of the tournament with host Colorado, which also shot a 279 during the third round.
The third-place finish tied the second-best result ever at a regional for Pepperdine. The Waves tied for first in 2002 and placed third in 2006 (they went on to finish second and third, respectively, at the NCAA Championships those years). The 11-over for the 54 holes was Pepperdine's best team score of the season, and the program's best-ever at an NCAA Regional event.
"To have the low round of the year on such an important day was fantastic," Pepperdine Coach Laurie Gibbs said. "I'm so proud of the girls. They played fabulous. All week, they looked really good. I felt that if we had a couple of players put together some good rounds we would get through. We just needed them to get comfortable. It was great to have everyone play well today."
Pepperdine will be making its 11th appearance in 14 years at the NCAA Championships, set for May 22-25 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.
Playing in her home state, Lee (Denver, Colo./Overland HS) had perhaps the best round of the tournament with her 5-under 67 today. It was the second 67 of the event, but Lee put together a five-birdie, zero-bogey performance. Four birdies came on the back nine, including the 17th and 18th holes, which allowed her to move up into a tie for sixth place with an even-par 216 (75-74-67).
Lee was tied for 42nd place after the first round and was tied for 30th after the second before her top-five finish. She didn't have a top-20 result in her first eight tournaments of the season, but then was the top finisher for the Waves at the West Coast Conference Championships, where she tied for third place, and followed that with another exceptional performance in Colorado. The 67 was her first below-par round in college.
"Somin has worked really hard this year," Gibbs said. "She needed a breakthrough, and she got it, and she's playing with confidence and determination. She's put it all together really well."
Lee was joined near the top of the leaderboard by Cheng (Auckland, New Zealand), who finished in a tie for 10th place with a 2-over 218 (74-73-71). Her final round included four birdies.
After a slow start, Na (Alameda, Calif./Alameda HS) had a big finish thanks to a five-birdie day. The two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year moved up 28 spots and into a tie for 26th place after her final-round 3-under 69 gave her a total of a 5-over 221 (75-77-69).
Lee and Na were two of just six players that posted scores in the 60s on Saturday.
Freshman Alina Ching (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) bounced back with an even-par 72 to round out the Waves' four scorers. She finished in a tie for 41st place at 224 (73-79-72). Ching had two birdies and no miscues on the back nine. Senior Kaitlin Drolson (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) tied for 61st at 228 (78-75-75).
Joining UCLA, LSU and Pepperdine at the NCAA Championships out of the West will be Colorado, Baylor, Stanford, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
-Courtesy of PEP Athletics