Tulane lady golfers earn first-ever NCAA invitation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Walshe shoots one under 69 for 4th place

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore Alison Walshe fired a one-under par 69 and the Green Wave carded a team 300 as the Tulane University women’s golf team clinched its first-ever bid to the NCAA Championships with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA East Regional Saturday at the par-70, 6,023-yard University of Florida Golf Course.

The trip to the Regionals was the fourth in a row for the Green Wave, but Tulane came up one, six and eight strokes from a top-eight finish in each of the last three years, respectively.

Tulane entered the day tied for fourth, and while slipping two spots, the Green Wave punched their ticket to nationals, which will begin on May 18 in Sunriver, Ore.

“My first feeling was a sense of relief to tell you the truth,” head coach Sue Bower said. “We’ve had good enough teams the last few years, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked out. This year, we really weren’t going to be denied. We’ve talked about (going to nationals) all year, we weren’t afraid of it. As a team, we have to update our goals a bit because now we have a chance to win a national championship.

“The two people I’m most happy for are my two seniors (Lindsay Hulwick and Alexis Wooster). They have wanted this since they were freshmen, broken-hearted in the parking lot when we missed it by one stroke in Baton Rouge. Since then, they have provided the leadership and the work ethic, and I know they are very, very excited.”

Walshe paced the Green Wave with a three-round, two-over par 212 (70-73-69) to finish fourth in the individual standings, and junior Liliana Alvarez was next with a 220 (70-71-79) to finish tied for 15th.

Hulwick (76-75-76=227) and Wooster (77-73-79=229) followed to tie for 38th and 51st place, respectively, and sophomore Mary Ellen Jacobs (77-79-76=232) rounded out the Tulane scorers to finish tied for 67th.

“There’s a reason Alison Walshe is an All-American candidate,” Bower said. “She’s been a consistent, top-level performer from her first round at Tulane. She continues to impress me and the world of college golf. But this once again proves you’ve got to have five players.

“Lili struggled today, but she stepped up yesterday and we wouldn’t be here without her performances in the first two rounds. Alexis had a 73 in the second round yesterday, and Mary Ellen had her best round of the tournament today. College golf is about team. It took all five girls to get the job done this weekend, and I couldn’t be more proud of them for the job they’ve done.”

Joining Tulane in the NCAA Championship from the East Regional are Ohio State, Duke, Furman, Pepperdine, Virginia, Florida and Washington. South Carolina (293-307-303) missed the cut by just three strokes at 903, and Vanderbilt was four strokes off the mark with a 904 (307-292-305).

Tulane is the lone team from Louisiana or Conference USA to advance to the NCAA Championships as East Carolina finished 17th in the East Regional, while LSU, TCU and USF finished 10th, 19th, and 20th, respectively, in the Central Regional in Lubbock, Texas.

LSU’s Brook Shelton, however, did earn an individual bid to Sunriver after finishing tied for sixth with an eight-over par 224 (73-78-74).

“We’ll define some goals between now and when we go to Oregon,” Bower said. “We need to prepare mentally and physically to take advantage of the opportunity. But I have a lot of confidence that they’ll do fine.”