For the 11th time in school history and first time since 2007, the IU women’s golf team has clinched a bid to the NCAA Championship by finishing sixth place in the NCAA East Lansing Regional.
IU’s 19-over par team score was three shots clear of seventh place Michigan State, which did not qualify for the NCAA Championship.
“It’s a great accomplishment for this team,” IU Coach Clint Wallman said. “It elevates Indiana golf and puts us on the map a bit more.”
Senior Erin Harper led the way for IU, shooting 2-over par for the week and finishing in a tie for 11th. Her final round, which included four birdies, was the best of her three rounds. The NCAA Championship won’t be all that new for Harper, who qualified last year as an individual.
“Speaking from my experience last year, I’m really happy to be going back this year with the team,” Harper said. “It will be so much more fun to experience it with my teammates.”
While Harper finished with a 2-under par 70, it was senior Kari Bellville who opened up the week a 70 of her own. Bellville’s four opening round birdies helped put IU in a tie for fourth as a team after one day of play.
“I was able to keep the ball in play and away from the heavy rough,” Bellville said following her first round. “I had some really amazing approach shots into the greens that ended up around 15 feet or closer, which made things around the green so much easier.”
IU struggled in round two, shooting 11-over par as a team. However, the team played its best golf in round three when it mattered most, posting a 3-over par score.
IU came into its regional as the 14th seed and was the only double digit seed from the East Lansing Regional to advance. Only two other double digit seeds advanced to the NCAA Championship from their respected regionals, the University of Central Florida and University of Tennessee.
Three other Big Ten teams will join IU at the NCAA Championship — Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue.
The NCAA Championship will begin on May 17 at Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The 24-team field will be cut to 15 teams following three rounds of stroke play, and those 15 teams will be cut to eight after a fourth round of stroke play. The remaining eight teams will switch to match play on May 21-22 to determine an eventual NCAA Champion.
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