Courtesy of Kent State Sports Information Department
STANFORD, Calif. – It wasn't until to the final hole of the day, more than five hours after completing her round, that sophomore Jennifer Ha learned that she has advanced to the NCAA Championships. Ha set a Kent State record in regional competition by shooting a 1-over, 214 to finish in eighth place and claim the region's final individual spot at nationals.
"We are very happy for Jennifer Ha and that she was able to qualify as an individual," associate head coach Rob Wakeling said. "She has made some adjustments and really worked on improving her putting game, and her play at the end of the season has been the result. Over her past four tournaments, Jennifer has played as well as just about anybody around."
Kent State posted a final round team score of 17-over, 301 to drop to a tie for 12th place in the 24-team field. The Golden Flashes entered the day just one stroke out of eighth and climbed to as high as seventh early in the final round, but missed the cut for nationals by eight strokes.
"We're a little disappointed in the way we finished, but very proud of how our ladies competed this weekend" Wakeling said. "We dug a little bit of a hole for ourselves on the front nine and weren't quite able to get out of it. Our play over the first two days gave us a chance coming into today, and that certainly isn't expected from the 21st seed."
Ha concluded her weekend with a 2-over, 73 during Saturday's final round at the Stanford University Course. Less than 24 hours after carding the field's lowest score on Friday, Ha continued her hot play by recording birdies on her first two holes. She finished the front nine at even-par, but then bogeyed the first two holes on the back nine. A birdie on No. 17 brought Ha back to even for the tournament, but she finished with a bogey on her final hole.
Then she waited. The Golden Flashes returned to their hotel, where they monitored the tournament's progress via the live results on GolfStat. As the final few groups began finishing, the team headed back to the course. During that time, Ha had received some help from San Jose State. The Spartan overcame a 19-stroke deficit to edge Baylor for the final NCAA spot, removing one of the golfers who was ahead of her from the equation.
Florida State's Jessica Negron's fourth birdie of the round on No. 14 moved her into a tie with Ha for the final individual spot. It remained that way following pars on next three holes. Facing the possibility of forcing a playoff, Negron bogeyed the par-4, 422-yard No. 18.
Junior Erin Hawe shot a 7-over 78 on Saturday to finish second on the team and tied for 39th place with a 10-over 223. A rough start that included a pair of bogies and double-bogies had Hawe at 6-over for the day after just seven holes. She recovered to shoot for par on the next 10 holes before bogeying No. 18 to end the round.
Freshman Josée Doyon and senior Jackie Yanch both had their lowest round of the tournament on Saturday. Doyon closed the weekend by carding a 75 and finished in a tie for 85th place. After struggling in the first two rounds, Yanch was terrific on Saturday, shooting for par on the front nine. She ended the round with a 4-over, 75.
Sophomore Natalie Goodson finished the tournament with a score of 233 (75-78-80) to tie for 91st.
No. 1 USC shot the lowest team score of the tournament (280) to overcome No. 12 Purdue and No. 7 Vanderbilt for the team title with a 7-over, 859. USC's Annie Park and Purdue's Paula Reto tied for the individual lead with a 7-under, 206.
Ha joins Martina Gillen (2002) as the only Kent State golfers to qualify for nationals as an individual. The Golden Flashes have made four appearances as a team in the 15-year history of the program. The 2013 NCAA Championships will take place May 21-24 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga.