Kilcrease fires 66 as TU snaps long NCAA Championship drought

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WESTFIELD, Ind. – The tradition-rich Tulsa women’s golf program, winners of four national championships, advanced to the 2023 NCAA Championship Finals for the first time since the 2007-08 season after Wednesday’s fifth-place performance at the NCAA Indiana Regional.

The sixth-seeded Golden Hurricane turned in a final round 4-under par 284 to finish with a 54-hole 9-under total score of 855 at The Club of Chatham Hills.

Hurricane freshman Grace Kilcrease had the day’s best round for Tulsa with a 6-under par score of 66, which was her best round of the season by two strokes. Today’s round put Kilcrease at 8-under 208 for the tournament and in fifth place individually.

Grace Kilcrease places 5th at NCAA Indiana Regional as Tulsa team advances to NCAA Championship.

Tulsa, 36thnationally in the Golfstat rankings coming into the regional, joined Regional Champion and No. 5-ranked Mississippi State (845), Oregon State (847), No. 17 Vanderbilt (848) and No. 25 Virginia (849) in advancing to the NCAA Championship, May 19-24, at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Thirty teams, five advancing from each of the six regional sites, will compete for the national title.

“We got off to a great start today. As bad of a start that we had yesterday, today’s start was equally as good. It gave us momentum throughout the day,” said Tulsa coach Annie Young.

Tulsa will be making its 28th national championship finals appearance and 20th NCAA Championship Finals event. In its history, Tulsa’s four national titles came in 1980 and 1982 as the AIAW Champions, while the Hurricane also won the first-ever NCAA Championship in that same season of 1982 and claimed the 1988 NCAA crown.

It has been 15 years since Tulsa made its last finals appearance at the NCAA Championship.

“This is a program changer. Five years ago when I arrived here, we were ranked 147th in the country, so the culture change has made the difference, and it’s been everyone involved in the program that has helped,” said Young.

“These girls work hard, are fun to be around and they put their all into it each and every day. It’s really cool to see good people – these girls are good people and good golfers as well – be successful. I haven’t had a team that puts in this much effort and time and desire and has this much love for one another.”

“It’s incredible that we got it done. They’re a young, young group but they didn’t let that get in the way this week,” Young added.

The rookie Kilcrease went 6-under through her first nine holes today with birdie putts on holes No. 1, 2, 3, 5  6 and 9. She made two bogeys on the back nine.

“I was walking with Syd (Sydney Seigel) and every time I looked up Grace was making another birdie. I don’t follow golfstat when we’re on the course, but everything I saw was good from her, and I thought okay we need to ride this train. It was so huge how Grace stepped up. She has the talent, and it was almost like, okay when is she going to really have her day, and the timing was great to have that day at regionals,” said Young.

With two under-par rounds in the three regional rounds this week, Kilcrease established a new school record with 19 of her 35 rounds on the season being par or less.

Lilly Thomas had Tulsa’s next best round of the day with a 2-under par 70 to finish the event in 29th place with a final total of 2-over 218. The senior had four birdies on the day, coming on holes No. 8, 12, 13 and 16, while her only blemishes were bogeys on holes three and 15.

Sophomore Sydney Seigel turned in an even-par score 72 and finished with a 4-under par score of 212 for a 13th place performance. Seigel had four birdies and four bogeys on the day.

The team score today also counted a 76 from Lovisa Gunnar, who finished the tournament in 40th place with a 6-over par 222 total score. Jenni Roller finished in 49th place with a 225 after today’s round of 79.

“The great thing was that everybody counted this week. Everyone mattered. It’s been that way all year, everyone has stepped up at different times this season. That’s our team. We can’t rely on just one person we have to rely on all five.”

Team Results
1. #5 Mississippi State – 280-275-290=845
2. Oregon State – 286-277-284=847
3. #17 Vanderbilt – 287-282-279=848
4. #25 Virginia – 287-284-278=849
5. #36 Tulsa – 279-292-284=855
6. #20 Iowa State – 286-288-286=860
T7. #40 Tennessee – 288-294-281=863
T7. Xavier – 289-285-289=863
9. #44 Michigan – 283-294-289=866
10. #8 Oregon – 294-291-288=873
11. Morehead State – 296-302-293=891
12. Lipscomb – 299-301-296=896

Tulsa Individuals
5. Grace Kilcrease – 69-73-66=208
T13. Sydney Seigel – 71-69-72=212
T29. Lilly Thomas – 73-75-70=218
T40. Lovisa Gunnar – 68-78-74=220
T49. Jenni Roller – 71-75-79=225

Top-5 Individuals
T1. #40 Amanda Sambach (Virginia) – 69-66-68=203
T1. Julia Lopez Ramirez (Mississippi State) – 67-66-70=203
3.  Hannah Levi (Mississippi State) – 68-66-70=204
4. #18 Celina Sattelkau (Vanderbilt) – 69-66-71=206
5. Grace Kilcrease (Tulsa) – 69-73-66=208

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Ken MacLeod

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