SAINT LEO, Fla. – This weekend marks the fifth NCAA Regional team appearance over the last six seasons for Saint Leo women's golf.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that the squad Head Coach Tommy Baker will be taking to Savannah, Ga., for the 2015 NCAA Division II South Super Regional will be loaded with experience.
Clare Connolly is the Lions' proven veteran of post-season play; the senior from Chevy Chase, Md., will be playing in her fourth NCAA regional event, after previously competing in the 2012 and 2014 regionals with the Saint Leo squad, and earning an individual berth in the 2013 regionals.
After Connolly, the remaining four Saint Leo competitors have just one regional appearance between them – sophomore Marie Coors' 2014 NCAA Regional individual title, won next door at the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club. Joining Coors and Connolly in the 2015 NCAA South Super Regional, which opens with a practice round on Saturday and three days of competitive rounds starting Sunday, will be freshmen Vilde Eriksen and Amanda Jakobsson, and junior Kellianne May, a junior college transfer in her first season at Saint Leo.
Jakobsson heads into this weekend's regional with a team-best 76.20 stroke average over 15 rounds, with a low round of 71 and one top-five finish to her credit after joining the team for the spring semester.
Coors has posted a 76.63 stroke average this season, nearly a full stroke higher than her average over her freshman season. However the All-American from a year ago has battled a wrist injury much of the season, and, according to Baker, has been hitting the ball better over the last week of practice than she has all season.
"For the younger players, it's about keeping a similar environment to a regular season tournament so they're not too unfamiliar with it," said Tommy Baker, Saint Leo's head women's golf coach, about the challenge of keeping a relatively young team on task heading into the regional.
"If you get too far ahead of yourself, especially in golf, then you start thinking about the results, and if you're thinking about the results, then you're not thinking about the process," explained Baker. "For them (Eriksen, Jacobsson, and May), I want them focused on today. Get better today, and you'll be even better tomorrow. And if you work at getting better tomorrow, you'll be even better the next day. At practice, we've been working at just getting better at the small things… and doing a lot one-ball competitions, that are close to a tournament-like environment."
Saint Leo got an early look at the Savannah Quarters Country Club (par 72, 6,043 yards) in Pooler, Ga., the site of this year's three-day, 54-hole NCAA South Super Regional, during the Armstrong State Lady Pirate Invitational in early March. The Lions were tied for sixth out of 16 teams in the preview event, with Eriksen pacing the Green and Gold with a 154 (+10) in the 36-hole tournament. She was tied for 27th in the field of 85 competitors, and all five Saint Leo golfers finished in the top-half of the field.
"When we played the course back in March… it had rained three to four inches the week prior and it rained during the tournament, so the course was extremely wet and extremely long," said Baker.
"It hasn't rained too much up in Savannah over the past week, so I'm expecting it to be firm and fast this time around. But it's an extremely challenging course, it's long and hopefully this time it will be a little dried out so the greens will be rolling a little bit better," said Baker.
For more information on the Saint Leo women's golf program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
You can follow the Lions during the 2015 NCAA South Super Regional with live hole-by-hole scoring through links at www.SaintLeoLions.com.