Homegrown Stars take aim at national championship

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POOLER, Ga. – Oklahoma City University has its sights set on its eighth national championship in the NAIA women’s golf championships starting Tuesday at Savannah Quarters Country Club.

OCU, fourth in the latest rankings, begins the first round 8:50 a.m. EDT starting on the 10th hole. Fans can follow the tournament on live results and live video.

The Stars captured their fifth consecutive Sooner Athletic Conference championship April 18-19 at Waterchase Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas. OCU owns national titles won in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2014.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to represent OCU and compete against the best teams in the country,” said OCU coach Marty McCauley, who has led the Stars to five conference titles and two national championships.

Caroline Goodin paced OCU to its 14th conference title by winning the individual crown. Kailey Campbell, Anna Mikish and Abby Thompson of the Stars also took all-SAC honors.

“We have a really special team right now,” Goodin said. “Everybody is just paying a little bit more attention to their short games right now, and that’s doing it for us. It’s really all about balance. I think that’s what’s made our team so successful this season so far is we’ve started to find that balance between school and our golf games, and it’s really paid off.”

Goodin, a junior from Oklahoma City, grabbed her second tournament victory of the season in the SAC Championships. Goodin’s other win sparked OCU to a program-record 30-stroke victory in the Claud Jacobs Invitational on Feb. 14-15 in Victoria, Texas. Goodin has been SAC golfer of the week twice this season. She has produced a 77.80 stroke average and 47 birdies in 30 rounds in 2015-16. Goodin snared all-tournament when OCU won the 2014 national title.

Mikish posted a runner-up finish in the SAC Championships. Mikish, a junior from Choctaw, Okla., turned in her first career victory in the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic on Oct. 24-25 in Oklahoma City. She reeled in two SAC golfer of the week awards while accumulating 78.17 shots per round, 53 birdies and two eagles in 2015-16.

Campbell tied for third place in the conference tournament for her third top-five showing of the season and to equal her career-best finish. Campbell, a junior from Oktaha, Okla., owns a 77.73 scoring average while burying 46 birdies. She took SAC golfer of the week for Feb. 22-28. Campbell also became an all-tournament performer in the 2014 NAIA Championships.

Thompson had her finest performance as a Star with her tie for fifth in the league championships while matching her best career round (73), which led the tournament the first day. Thompson, a senior from Edmond, Okla., has supplied OCU with 80.26 strokes per 18 holes, 23 birdies and an eagle in 27 rounds this season. She is the only senior on the team.

All five Stars placed in the top 10 in the SAC Championships as Raegan Barnes contributed her season-best showing, a tie for seventh. Barnes, a junior from Choctaw, Okla., has provided an 80.71 stroke average and 21 birdies in 21 rounds this season.

“We have a great chance to win,” Goodin said. “We’ve got three returning all-Americans, and everybody has a little more experience now that we’re upperclassmen. Any one of the five of us could win individually as well as the team title, and that’s what makes us special.”

Keiser (Fla.), formerly known as Northwood (Fla.), won the 2015 national title. William Woods (Mo.) enters the tournament as the top team in the NAIA rankings.

Savannah Quarters Country Club will be set up as a par-72, 6,004-yard course. The course, founded in 2001 and located within the Westbrook community, is primed to test the competitors’ skills as soon as they set foot on the history-rich fairways of this 18-hole Greg Norman Signature Golf Course managed by Troon Golf. With tall trees, multiple ponds and ominous hazards, danger lurks at every corner as the players make their way towards the pristine Mini-verde greens.

The course features Bermuda grass. Eight of OCU’s tournaments this season took place on courses with Bermuda grass, which the Stars’ home course, Lincoln Park Golf Course, has. OCU’s wins in the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic and in the SAC Championships were on courses with Bermuda. The Stars’ other victory this season came in the Claud Jacobs Invitational.

Conditions on the course are expected to include temperatures in the upper 80s with rain chances throughout the week. The possibility for rain goes up to 60 percent on the final two days of the tournament, May 19 and 20.

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source

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