St. Louis, Mo., May 5, 2014 – The Washington University in St. Louis women's golf team will make its fifth-straight appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship, as announced Monday by the NCAA. The Bears earned an at-large bid to the NCAA championship, which will be played Tuesday-Friday, May 13-16, at the El Campeon Golf Course at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. Central Florida Sports Commission and Oglethorpe University will serve as hosts.
Washington University, ranked No. 1 in the Golf World/National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) coaches' poll, placed in the top-five in nine of 10 tournaments played. The Bears posted six wins in 2013-14: Labor Day Tee-Off, Millikin Fall Classic, DePauw Small College Classic, George Fox Westbrook Invite, IWU Spring Fling and IWU-WUSTL Dual.
"We're obviously thrilled to be selected for the fifth year in a row. It validates everything we do as a program and the sacrifices that sometimes come with being a student-athlete," said fifth-year head coach Sean Curtis, the 2012 Division III Eaton Pride NGCA National Coach of the Year. "We ask a lot of our players and they deliver with unwavering commitment and loyalty. We couldn't be happier to go back to Mission Inn where we played in our first national championship."
Washington U. brings a 313.40 scoring average to the NCAA Championship, a mark that is the second-lowest in school history. The Bears finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Golfstat Division III head-to-head rankings.
Sophomore Connie Zhou, junior Olivia Lugar and freshman Xin Fang lead a group of five golfers who will compete in the NCAA Championship. All three are ranked in the top-20 in NCAA Division III in scoring, with Zhou and Lugar in the top-10.
Zhou, a second-team All-America selection as a freshman, is first in the Central Region and sixth in NCAA Division III with a 76.84 stroke average. She has fired 16 of 20 rounds under 80, and won the Golfweek Fall Preview with the lowest 54-hole score in school history of 219 (76-72-71). Zhou has finished in the top-10 in eight of 10 tournaments played.
Lugar, a two-time first-team All-America honoree, has fired 15 of 20 rounds this season at 80 or lower and ranks ninth in NCAA Division III with a 77.47 average. She won three tournaments this year to increase her career total to nine, tied for most in school history. Lugar shot a season-low 149 (76-73) to claim medalist honors at the Washington U. Spring Invitational.
Fang enters the NCAA Championship ranked 18th in NCAA Division III in scoring at 78.74. She has fired 14 of 20 rounds at 80 or lower, and finished in the top-10 in all 10 tournaments she competed in. Fang tied for seventh at the Washington U. Spring Invitational with a career-low 152 (77-75).
Senior Andrea Hibbert, a three-time Central Region selection, has four top-10 finishes this season and ranks 70th in scoring with an 82.21 scoring average. Freshman Samantha Han rounds out the starting lineup for Washington U. with an 82.47 average, which ranks 76th in NCAA Division III in scoring.
Last season, Washington U. placed sixth out of 21 teams at the NCAA Division III Championship in its fourth-straight appearance. The Bears also placed 13th in 2012, eighth in 2011 and 19th in 2010 in their first-ever appearance.
The championships will consist of both team and individual competition conducted concurrently. The tournament consists of 72 holes of play over four days of competition. In the team competition, the low four scores from each team for each day will count in the team's total score.
In 2013, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor won its first NCAA Division III Women's Golf Championship with a combined score of 1,239 at Baytowne Golf Course in Destin, Fla. Runner-up honors went to the University of Texas at Tyler (1,247). Methodist University finished third with a score of 1,259 and George Fox University finished fourth with a score of 1,267. Texas-Tyler freshman Laura Lindsay earned medalist honors with a four-shot victory over Kelsey Morrison from George Fox.