May 7, 2011
AUBURN, Wash. - Saving her best for last, Baylor women's golf junior Chelsey Cothran fired a 78 Saturday in the final round of the NCAA West Regional to finish 24-over-par (82-80-78=240). Cothran, who tied for 93rd out of 126 participants, finishes the season with the fourth-lowest single-season scoring average (74.85) in program history.
The top eight teams advanced to the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship, which will be held May 18-21 in Bryan, Texas. Top-ranked USC won the NCAA West Regional by a 10-stroke margin; joining USC at the NCAA Championship will be Tennessee, Virginia, UC Davis, Arizona, South Carolina, Washington and host Texas A&M. Georgia's Marta Silva Zamora (3-over 219) and North Dakota State's Amy Anderson (5-over 221) also advanced to the NCAA Championship as individuals.
In all, three golfers finished the 54-hole NCAA West Regional under-par - Tennessee's Erica Popson (8-under 208) and USC teammates Lizette Salas (3-under 213) and Sophia Popov (1-under 215). A fourth golfer, Callie Nielson of Virginia, finished at even-par 216.
"Chelsey got off to a really solid start and it was nice change from the first two days," Baylor assistant coach Jordan Cox said. "She had a lot of birdie opportunities Saturday, but had some hiccups with the putter down the stretch.
"There were a couple of shots here and there that we shouldn't have given away," Cox said. "Still she hit the ball extremely well. With the exception of the two or three shots that got away, it was a good way to finish."
Cothran enjoyed her best nine-hole stretch of the West Regional, opening with a 2-over-par on the back nine. She started with three pars before a bogey on No. 13. She then followed with four pars and a bogey to finish off the back nine.
"My putting wasn't what I needed it to be and could have been a lot of better," Cothran said. "The greens were different speeds because of the rain; I was hitting it on line, but I couldn't get good reads. My putts weren't falling today."
Plagued by double-bogeys each of the first two days, Cothran avoided big numbers on the front nine. She managed four bogeys on the final nine holes to finish Saturday's final round with a 78.
"I'm grateful to make it to an NCAA Regional as an individual," Cothran said. "What happened this weekend was not what I had in mind, but I will take this trip as an experience. I plan to work on both the positives and the negatives as I prepare for my senior season. With the team we have next year, we should be back in an NCAA Regional as a team and work on getting a bid to (the NCAA Championship)."
Cothran owns a 76.19 career scoring average in 86 total rounds (30 tournaments). The Springdale, Ark., native improved her scoring average by than a stroke from her sophomore (76.12) to junior (74.85) season.