The Lady Jaguars mark their third appearance in the NCAA East Regional, when they begin play at 12:55 p.m. today at the Penn State Blue Course in State College, Pa. The 54-hole tournament runs through Saturday.
“Everyone is excited to be back in competition,” first-year Augusta State coach Kory Thompson said. “Everybody is really looking forward to teeing it up.”
Augusta State is one of 24 teams looking to qualify for the NCAA Championships, held later this month. The top eight teams at the conclusion of Saturday’s play will advance. The Lady Jaguars have yet to move past the regional stage, missing by four shots in 2006, and finishing 17th last year.
In eight regular-season tournaments, Augusta State has finished fifth or better six times.
The Lady Jaguars won the Edwin Watts/ Kiawah Island Classic in February before finishing second in their home event in March.
With her team’s success this season, Thompson said her squad is going to the regional to do more than just finish in the top eight.
“We’re going to play like we’re trying to win it,” she said. “If you’re just trying to make the cut, you’ll probably miss it by a shot or two.”
With three top-10 finishes in the past four events, Natalie Wille leads Augusta State with a 75.22 stroke average, just ahead of Casey Kennedy (75.29). Christine Duschek-Hansen averages 77.1 shots a round and is followed by Marit Bjerke (77.3) and Kirsty Rands (77.3).
Augusta State shot 54-over-par 918 in last year’s regional to finish 28 shots out of eighth place. With all five starters off last year’s team back in the lineup, Thompson said she expects her players to be more comfortable.
“They’ve been here as far as regionals go,” she said. “They know they belong.”