May 19, 2009
MALIBU, Calif. -- After a terrific rally at the NCAA West Regional that elevated the Pepperdine women's golf team into the eighth and final qualifying spot, the Waves are making their ninth NCAA Championships appearance in the last 11 years.
Pepperdine is one of 24 teams that have advanced to the NCAA Championships, hosted by Georgetown and held at the par-72, 6,443-yard Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. The 72-hole tournament will feature a single round each day between Tuesday and Friday (May 19-22). Live scoring will be provided on golfstat.com.
The 24 teams, in order of their Golfweek/Sagarin index rating, are: #1 Arizona State, #2 UCLA, #3 USC, #4 Oklahoma State, #5 Wake Forest, #6 Virginia, #7 Alabama, #9 Purdue, #10 LSU, #11 Duke, #12 North Carolina, #13 Denver, #14 Pepperdine, #15 Georgia, #17 Arizona, #21 Michigan State, #22 New Mexico, #24 Tennessee, #26 Ohio State, #28 Tulane, #29 UC Irvine, #31 TCU, #36 Texas and #46 UT-Chattanooga.
On both Tuesday and Wednesday, the Waves will be partnered with UT-Chattanooga and Georgia. Their groups will go off the 10th tee between 8:30 and 9:10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, and off the first tee between 12:50 and 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
"The only one of us that has seen the course is (associate head coach) Kelli Kamimura, and that was 10 years ago," Pepperdine Coach Laurie Gibbs said. "I hear it's hilly and long, a traditional course with solid par-4s and long shots to the green. I believe that will help us, because we've got a team of good ball-strikers who can handle the middle irons.
"Anything can happen at nationals. There's really no pressure on us. We just want to go out and play four really good rounds in a row."
The Waves began the postseason by winning their eighth consecutive WCC title, and their 11th in the last 13 years. Things then looked bleak at the NCAA West Regional, hosted by Arizona State at the Karsten Golf Course, as Pepperdine was tied for 10th after the first round and 11th after the second round. The Waves still trailed three other teams for the eighth position with four holes to play, but for the remainder of the round, Pepperdine's scoring players shot 1-under while Texas A&M (7-over), Arkansas (5-over) and California (4-over) went by the wayside.
After missing out on the NCAA Championships in 2008, the Waves' lineup has limited experience at nationals. Senior Jayvie Agojo will be competing in her third NCAA finals after being part of Pepperdine's team as a freshman and sophomore. But the rest of the Waves' squad consists of one sophomore and three freshmen.
"This group showed a lot of guts at regionals and I think they will take that into the NCAAs," Gibbs said. "This is a team that really focuses well. They know how to handle the pressure and overcome it. When they really faced some adversity at regionals, they handled it."
Despite having a young group, the Waves have won three tournament titles over the course of the year, including an NCAA-record-setting victory at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown in the fall. Agojo, sophomore Taylore Karle and freshman Lisa McCloskey have each been the medalist on one occasion.
This year's squad will look to build on the strong reputation that Pepperdine has developed in women's collegiate golf. Over the past decade, the Waves became an elite program with a number of excellent showings at the NCAA Championships. The Waves finished second in 2003, third in 2006, fourth in 2005 and fifth in 1999 and have a total of seven top 10 finishes in eight previous trips.
The Waves will go with the same lineup for the seventh time in eight spring tournaments, as freshmen Kaitlin Drolson and Jessica Wallace will join Agojo, Karle and McCloskey.
Agojo was the medalist at last month's WCC Championships. All five players earned All-WCC first team honors (Agojo for the fourth time and Karle for the second time) and McCloskey was voted WCC Freshman of the Year.
Karle (Scottsdale, Ariz./Laurel Springs Academy), a 2008 All-American second teamer, leads the team with a stroke average of 73.79. She also has a team-high four top 10 finishes, six top 20 results and nine sub-par rounds. She is currently ranked #51 in the Golfweek/Sagarin index and #53 by Golfstat. She won Pepperdine's own Wave Invitational.
Agojo (Bangkal, Makati City, Philippines) is a two-time winner of the WCC Championships, having also won the title as a 2006 freshman. She's a veteran of NCAA play, having competed in four regionals and two NCAA Championships. She tied for 75th in 2006 and did not place in 2007 after withdrawing from the first round (she shot 74-76-78 the next three days). Agojo is second on the team this season with a 74.59 stroke average, and has three top 10 and four top 20 finishes. She is currently ranked #90 by Golfstat and #93 in the Golfweek/Sagarin index.
"Jayvie's experience will be big, because she's played well at nationals," Gibbs said. "Her leadership will be important."
Drolson (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Torrey Pines HS), who tied for second place at the WCC Championships and has three top 10 finishes, has a 74.81 average. McCloskey (Montgomery, Texas/Montgomery HS) has a 74.90 average and Wallace (Langley, B.C., Canada/Walnut Grove Secondary) is averaging 75.59 strokes. McCloskey became the first women's college golfer ever to break 200 when she won the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown in the fall.
Courtesy of Pepperdine University Sports Information