Athens, GA Virginia freshman Joy Kim posted five birdies over her final nine holes at the NCAA East Regional to propel the Cavalier women’s golf team back to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2005. Kim had one bogey during her final round to finish the day at 4-under 68. It was the lowest score of any player Saturday. As a team Virginia shot 4-over 292 to finish the 54-hole tournament in fifth place at 34-over 898. The top eight teams from three regional sites advance to the national championships.
“Yesterday we struggled quite a bit and that put a lot of pressure on the girls to play well today,” said Virginia coach Kim Lewellen. “They got together at the end of the second round in a huddle and said as a group they could do this, finish in the top eight. They talked about how they had the best round of the tournament down at LSU on the last day and how well they played at the ACC Championships. They knew they could do it.
“It was like a basketball team was out there today because they were pumping fists at each other and giving each other a lot of encouragement. They really came together as a team and it was exciting to watch them play well and to achieve the goal they all had at the beginning of the season, to get back to the NCAAs.”
Kim, a native of Duluth, Ga., finished the tournament played at the University of Georgia’s Golf Course at 2-over 218 to finish tied for seventh. Her final round score was the lowest of her career and the best 18-hole effort by any Cavalier this season.
“She is very disciplined, mentally,” Lewellen said. “She really had it going today. You could just see the determination in her eyes. When she got that first birdie, that just got her going. We really needed her today and we got her best. What more could you ask of someone in this setting? I’m just glad we’ve got her for three more years.”
Entering the back nine on Saturday, Kim had just two birdies on her first 45 holes during the tournament.
“That was maybe my best (nine holes), ever” Kim said. “I knew I had to play well today for the team to make it to the NCAAs. When I got that birdie on 10 I knew I had eight more holes to get more. Then I got one at 11 and 12 right away. It was a great feeling.”
Earlier this season Kim finished 67th on the same course during Georgia’s Liz Murphey Classic, shooting 25-over 241, including scores of 84, 80 and 77.
“To be honest, I wasn’t happy about coming back to this course,” Kim admitted. “I was so angry after how I played here the last time, I threw my yardage book away. Everyone told me just to let it go and not let the course beat you. The conditions were a lot better this time because there was a lot more grass on the course. I’m pretty happy right now because I feel like I beat the course this time instead of it beating me.”
Sophomore Whitney Neuhauser shot 2-over 74 Saturday to finish 24th at 9-over 225. Freshman Calle Nielson also shot 74 during the final round and was 27th at 226. Lene Krog and Jennie Arseneault both had 76s Saturday. Krog finished play at 230 to finish 48th while Arseneault posted a final score of 233 and was 61st.
The Cavaliers failed to advance the past two seasons at the East Regional after losing a one-hole playoff to Alabama in 2006 and finishing ninth in 2007. The 2005 team was 13th at the NCAA Championships behind Leah Wigger’s runner-up finish.
Fifth-ranked Florida held off top-ranked Duke on the final day to win the Regional. The Gators shot 10-over 298 in the final round to place first at 19-over 883. Duke shot 296 Saturday and finished one stroke behind the Gators. Eighth-ranked Georgia was third at 889 while 10th-ranked Auburn was fourth at 894.
Other teams finishing in the top eight and earning NCAA berths were South Carolina (899), Wake Forest (899) and Furman (900). New Mexico (901), the host team for the NCAA Championships, finished ninth and missed forcing a playoff for the final berth by one shot.
South Carolina’s Benedicte Toumpsin took medalist honors by shooting 2-under 214. Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst tied with Louisville’s Sara-Maude Juneau for second at 215.
The NCAA Championships take place May 20-23 at the University of New Mexico’s Championships Golf Course in Albuquerque.
Virginia joins Duke and Wake Forest as the only ACC teams to advance from the regionals. North Carolina, NC State and Florida State also competed at regionals.
Other Teams Advancing to NCAA Championships:
From Central Regional: 1. UCLA (861), 2. Purdue (871), 3. Denver (882), 4. TCU (884), 5. Texas A&M (885), 6. Alabama (896), 7. Texas (899) and 8. LSU* (902). Note: LSU won playoff vs. Florida State for 8th place.
From West Regional: 1. USC (855), 2. Arizona State (870), 3. UNLV (879), 4. Arizona (880), 5. Oklahoma State (882), 5. Arkansas (882), 7. Tulsa (884), 8. UC Davis. Note: UC Davis won playoff with Stanford and Ohio State for 8th place.
NCAA East Regional Championship
Univ. of Georgia Golf Course
Par-72, 6,335 yards
1. Florida 290-295-298-883
2. Duke 285-303-296-884
3. Georgia 299-300-290-889
4. Auburn 296-302-296-894
5. Virginia 296-310-292-898
6. South Carolina 291-303-305-899
6. Wake Forest 298-305-296-899
8. Furman 292-307-301-900
Failed to Advance
9. New Mexico 304-301-296-901
10. Louisville 293-315-304-912
11. Vanderbilt 308-305-301-914
12. East Carolina 314-297-308-919
13. UNC Wilmington 312-302-308-922
14. Georgia State 308-306-310-924
15. Missouri 305-320-300-925
16. Tennessee 311-311-307-929
17. Central Florida 312-311-307-930
18. Indiana 309-313-311-933
19. Charleston Southern 309-315-326-950
20. Jacksonville State 327-315-313-955
21. Jackson State 338-333-325-996
1. Benedicte Toumpsin, South Carolina 68-70-76-214
2. Amanda Blumenherst, Duke 68-73-74-215
2. Sara-Maude Juneau, Louisville 67-74-74-215
4. Krystle Caithness, Georgia 70-73-74-217
4. Cydney Clanton, Auburn 70-75-72-217
4. Alexandra Phelps, New Mexico 71-73-73-217
7. Tiffany Chudy, Florida 72-75-71-218
7. Joy Kim, Virginia 73-77-68-218
9. Carmen Perez, UNC Wilmington 71-72-76-219
10. Corrine Carr, Furman 69-76-75-220
10. Garrett Phillips, Georgia 77-74-69-220
10. Julia Potter, Missouri 73-75-72-220
10. Jessica Yadloczky, Florida 73-72-75-220
7. Joy Kim 73-77-68-218
24. Whitney Neuhauser 72-79-74-225
27. Calle Nielson 74-78-74-226
48. Lene Krog 78-76-76-230
61. Jennie Arseneault 77-80-76-233