Oregon confident as ever heading into NCAA Regionals
Oregon women’s golf has gone to six straight NCAA Regionals — soon to be seven — and has advanced to the NCAA Championships twice.
Yet Oregon head coach Ria Scott says this team is different.
“This is probably the most confident I’ve ever been with any golf team in my nine years coaching,” Scott said.
It’s a bold statement, considering her 2014-15 team obliterated the program’s single-season scoring average (it dropped from 298.61 to 292.66) and won two tournaments in the spring. This year’s team only won one tournament, but did have four top-five finishes.
That 2014-15 team also had a solid run in the Pac-12 Tournament, finishing second. In this year’s conference tournament, Oregon finished eighth.
“It definitely wasn’t the best finish on the last day,” junior Cathleen Santoso said about Oregon’s Pac-12 results. “But we know we’ve all got the game to play well.”
Despite their disappointing finish, the Ducks’ attention now turns to the NCAA Regionals. They were recently awarded the five-seed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the regionals will be hosted.
Oregon’s season comes down to three rounds of golf. The team needs to place sixth or better in its region to advance to the NCAA Championships.
The Ducks understand what these next rounds mean for their season.
“I think it’s just making sure that we understand that every shot counts at regionals because we don’t know how our score will be compared to the whole field,” Santoso said. “It’s the most important tournament of the year and you just need to make sure every shot is your best.”
The Baton Rouge regional is host to an impressive field. Six teams are ranked in the top 25 nationally, according to golfstat.com, with No. 4 Duke receiving the one-seed.
Also highlighting the field are No. 5 Florida, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 13 Washington and No. 24 South Carolina. Oregon is ranked 20th heading into regionals.
Oregon will head to Baton Rouge with the top five scoring leaders from this year’s team. Caroline Inglis and Cathleen Santoso will be the top two, freshmen Petra Salko and Kathleen Scavo will hold down the middle spots, and Marcella Pranovia will anchor the back of the rotation for the Ducks.
The team headed to Baton Rouge on Monday, May 2 to get as much practice as they can in before NCAA Regionals begin on Thursday.
Scott has said at times this year that the veteran leadership this season has been the best she’s ever had. But she cites other aspects of the team as the source of her confidence.
“This team has more depth, tournament experience and success than the previous two teams that I’ve coached at the national championship,” Scott said. “What makes it really exciting is that once we get to nationals, they could leave a real dent in other people’s plans.”
The road to the national championships begins Thursday, May 5.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris
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