LAWRENCE, Kan. – For only the second time in program history, the Kansas women’s golf team has been selected as an at-large team for an NCAA Regional, as the Jayhawks heard their name called when the GOLF Channel announced the 72-team NCAA field Wednesday afternoon.
Kansas is the No. 9 seed in the 12-team Athens Regional and will play at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Georgia, May 8-10. There are six total NCAA Regionals consisting of 12 teams each. The top five teams from the regional will qualify for the NCAA Championship, May 19-24, at the Grayhawk Golf Club, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Additionally, the low individual not from a top-five finishing team from each regional will also advance to the NCAA Championship.
“I think that is a perfect region for us,” said Kansas second-year head coach Lindsay Kuhle who was an assistant coach at Georgia in 2012-13. “I know the course well having been a coach there and having played many tournaments there as a player. I know what you need to do to play well there and its ball striking and putting. Those are the two areas that we have improved the most this season and why we have played so well this spring.”
The Athens Regional consists of 1. South Carolina; 2. San Jose State; 3. Ole Miss; 4. Ohio State; 5. Georgia; 6. Maryland; 7. Kent State; 8. Charleston; 9. KANSAS; 10. Furman; 11. Augusta; and 12. Sacred Heart.
“I believe we are one of the best ball striking teams in the country and we have improved our putting so much,” Kuhle said. “We have more confidence on the greens. We’ve been tracking our putting statistics all season long and have seen the improvement. We should have confidence on the big, undulating greens at that course.”
The only other time Kansas was selected as an at-large team for an NCAA Regional was in 2014. That team placed fifth at the NCAA Regional in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and advanced to the NCAA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I had that vision (of making NCAA Regionals) and that’s why I came to KU,” Kuhle said of making an NCAA Regional in just her second season at Kansas. “I knew that we could be great. I knew we had the resources, the support, the people and the facilities. I didn’t know that it would be this soon but when you get the right people on the bus that really care about this program, and its growth, and are competitive, it’s a perfect formula to achieve great goals.”
Ranked No. 51 in the latest Golfstat rankings, Kansas has nine top-10 finishes in 2022-23, four of those in the top five. Recently, Kansas finished second to No. 10 Texas in the Big 12 Match Play Tournament, April 7-9, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kansas was the No. 1 seed after pool play with 17.0 points, edging No. 10 Texas and No. 38 TCU (16.5 points) before defeating No. 12 Baylor in the semifinals. Additionally, Kansas set the school record for 54 holes with a 12-under 852 at the UCF Challenge in Orlando, Feb. 5-7. The following tournament, KU set the school 18-hole record with a 279 (-9) in the final round of the Westbrook Invitational on Feb. 27.
At last weekend’s conference championship, Kansas graduate senior Esme Hamilton was named to the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament team where she tied for ninth. Hamilton has two top-10 finishes in 2022-23 and a 74.55 per round scoring average. Sophomore Johanna Ebner leads KU with a 73.59 per round average. She has placed in the top-five in two tournaments and the top 20 in four. Sophomore Jordan Rothman is just behind Ebner with a 73.60 per round average. Rothman has four top-20 finishes this year, including a tie for third at the PING/ASU Invitational, March 24-26. Sophomore Lauren Clark (74.32) has six rounds of par or better with all six in the spring portion of the season. Super senior Abby Glynn has competed in all but one tournament in 2022-23 and the NCAA Regional will be her 31st tournament in her KU career.
Historically, prior to NCAA Regional play, KU was an NCAA Championship automatic qualifier in 1990 by winning the Big Eight Conference Tournament. Additionally, Kansas has had individuals compete in NCAA Regionals in 1993 (Holly Reynolds), 1994 (Holly Reynolds), 2006 (Amanda Costner), 2008 (Emily Powers), 2015 (Yupaporn Kawinpakorn) and 2016 (Pornvipa Sakdee and Yupaporn Kawinpakorn). Kawinpakorn and Sakdee were part of the 2014 team along with Thanuttra Boonraksasat, Minami Levonowich and Meghan Potee.
In just her second season at Kansas, Kuhle has the Jayhawks in the NCAA Regional for the second time in school history and the first time in nine years. This is Kuhle’s 20th NCAA Regional with 16 as a coach and four as a student-athlete at Tulane (2002-05).