Getting to the NCAA Championship isn’t easy. Winning is even tougher. The No. 4 South Carolina women’s golf team advanced to the NCAA Championship for the third straight year and for the twelfth time in 16 years under head coach Kalen Anderson. While making the finals is a goal and perhaps an expectation for the program, the challenge in winning is not just because the Gamecocks will be competing with 29 other great teams, but because the format is different than how tournaments are played for most of the year as it combines stroke play and match play.
“A lot of us have played a lot of tournaments back home that have stroke play and match play,” said Mia Sandtorv Lussand, a freshman from Norway. “It’s a lot of golf, but I think it’s a good format to play for the last tournament. It’s fun. It’s different, and I like it.”
“I really like the format,” said Louise Rydqvist, a sophomore from Sweden. “If you make the match play, anything can happen from there. I’ve played a lot of tournaments in Europe, and a few of them have the same format, with a lot of match play. I really enjoy it and think it’s really fun.”
“It’s not really about the format,” said Hannah Darling, a sophomore from Scotland. “It’s still golf. We play 18 holes at a time. It is different because we go all the way out west, and it’s hot. It’s in a desert. The course is pretty difficult, but I think we’re more prepared this year than we were last year. Most of us have played out there now.”
The NCAA Championship runs May 19-24 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. for the third consecutive season. Teams will compete in three rounds of stroke play, which is how they normally compete. After that, the top 15 teams will play another round to determine the top eight teams for match play.
“I like our depth, and I like our experience there,” said head coach Kalen Anderson. “We played this golf course in March when we were out in Tempe (for another tournament). This spring, we have made an effort to play more disciplined golf, and this course requires discipline. They key is going to be staying loose and having fun with it.”
It’s a lot of golf in a short time, so obviously getting off to a good start is just one of the keys in making the cut.
“Coming out pretty hot the first couple of days is important, so we can get ourselves up there,” Rydqvist said. “Then it will be super-important to stay hydrated and fuel ourselves…
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