IU women’s golf coach Clint Wallman keeps telling his team nothing is different.
After failing to make the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2012, the Hoosiers are back with a berth in the NCAA Central Region in Norman, Okla., with the goal of ending up in Athens, Ga., for a shot at the National Championship.
“It’s obviously a culmination of a lot of hard work on the girls’ part,” he said. “They’ve definitely had postseason in their sights and they’ve done what it takes, all the little things, to get here.
“It’s a big deal, but we’re very careful not to make it the endgame. We made it here to give ourselves a chance to make it to the next step.”
The Hoosiers will tee off from hole No. 10 at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club at 1:00 p.m. local time Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. local time Friday from hole No. 1.
The course is a par 72 of 6,298 yards.
IU’s five golfers will include seniors Kate Coons and Rosie Davies, graduate student Kristen Schelling, sophomore Elizabeth Tong and freshman Marissa DeCola.
“When we set out in August in our team meetings, the focus was on getting to Georgia and competing for the National Championship,” Wallman said. “We realized that to stay, we needed to do things to get ourselves there. The whole regular season and even the practices and the workouts were geared toward a successful regular season campaign, which we had. That brings us to where we’re at today.
“Hopefully we’ll have a good one over the next four days and that’ll move us to the next days. The eye is further down the road, for sure.”
IU will play with Gonzaga and University of Texas-San Antonio during the rounds on Thursday and Friday. Tee times and pairs for Saturday and Sunday will be decided after results from the first two rounds.
Wallman said he was happy with the draw IU received, as it has played with Gonzaga and UTSA in the past.
”There’s not necessarily a ‘wow’ factor there, like we’re playing a Duke or a Florida or someone like that that we haven’t played before,” he said. “That takes that away. We’re playing with teams we’ve played with throughout the season.”
Duke, Oklahoma, Florida, Washington and Arizona State are the top five teams in the 24-team field. IU is seeded No. 17., Gonzaga No. 16 and UTSA sits at No. 18.
No. 9 Michigan State and No. 20 Wisconsin join IU as the other Big Ten schools in the region.
“This region, if you look at it from top to bottom compared to the other regions, is very, very balanced,” Wallman said. “You obviously have Duke and Oklahoma, Washington State and Arizona State. You’ve got a lot of really good teams. But you go down the line and there are really good teams top to bottom.”
IU hasn’t advanced to the NCAA Championships since 2007. Coons said the team just has to limit its mistakes to make it back there.
“I think that we talk a lot as a team about, ‘you don’t have to go out there and shoot under par to get out of here, you just need to make less mistakes than everybody else,’” Coons said. “I think if we all do that, come Saturday we’ll be where we need to be.”