Dores Ready to Showcase NCAA Franklin Regional

Vandy faces tough field in 12-team event starting Monday

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Vanderbilt women’s golf program has played to host to some major events in its past, namely the 2012 NCAA Championships and the annual Mason Rudolph regular-season tournament.

But never before in its history has Vandy welcomed in some of the nation’s best for an NCAA Regional. That changes this week when 11 teams descend upon Franklin to play at the Vanderbilt Legends Club with a trip to the NCAA Championships on the line. 

The event is free to attend.

“I don’t know what the work week is like for folks, but I would like for Commodore fans to come out and support our young ladies. Heck, just support women’s golf,” Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen said. “It’s an opportunity to come out and watch some of the rising stars of the LPGA Tour. There’s going to be a lot of really good players here.”

Allen admitted he didn’t have a good answer for why Vanderbilt hasn’t hosted an NCAA Regional ever before. But part of the idea to put in an official bid to host in 2022 came while watching the 2021 Baton Rouge Regional get washed out by rain and empathizing with the programs in that event who didn’t get a chance to compete.

The NCAAs decision to have six Regional sites with 12 teams this year instead of four sites with 18 teams helped Vandy be in the mix as an hosting option. Allen said the behind-the-scenes work of Allison Brown at the Tennessee Golf Association, Micah Hicks, Kass Kovalcheck and Jarrod Kepple at the Legends Club and Vanderbilt director of operations Virginia Green has been pivotal in making this historic event possible.

“The lead rules official just keeps talking about how great our folks have done in organizing this in just such a last-minute deal,” Allen said.

With so much work having been done leading up to this point, now it’s time for the Commodores to do some work on the course.

Vandy goes into the 12-team field as the No. 6 seed and faces stiff competition in ACC champion and No. 1 seed Wake Forest, Alabama, Texas A&M, Duke and Pac-12 runner-up Oregon State. Brigham Young, Kent State, Texas San Antonio, Augusta, Boston University and Austin Peay are also among the teams competing.

The Commodores, in a Regional for the fourth consecutive season and 22nd time in program history, have had an up-and-down season – mostly due to nagging injuries throughout the starting lineup – having finished as high as second and as low as 13th (twice). But Vandy is coming off an SEC Tournament showing that saw them advance into match play.

Allen is hopeful that the squad is now fully helpful and peaking at just the right time.

“I feel like our confidence is going to be high and as long as we can just manage the expectations – for me I’m always preaching just go out there and give us everything you got, everything in your tank and give us good body language and great attitude. We’ll add ‘em up when you’re done,” Allen said. “We just got to minimize our mistakes. If we make a mistake out here, it’s our home course, we should know how to minimize the damage if we do get it sideways a time or two.

“Be calm in the chaos if you get it off track. Just find a way to get it back on track and keep moving forward.”

Many of Vanderbilt’s players have spent this week dotting the region playing in U.S. Open qualifying events while also balancing final exams. The team began returning to Nashville on Thursday and was eligible to practice at the Legends Club on Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday the site is handed over to the NCAA for setup and teams are allowed to utilize the facility for practice. Sunday is designated as a practice round day for all participants.

The NCAA Franklin Regional will also be a prime opportunity for seniors Louise Yu and Auston Kim to make a lasting memory on their home course. Kim just recently qualified for the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open by winning the qualifying event in Pittsburgh and Lu was an NCAA Championship participant as an individual in 2021.

That duo, along with Celina Sattelkau, Tess Davenport and Jayna Choi (Virginie Ding will be available as a substitute) will try to put Vanderbilt in position to advance while handling steep expectations.

“We’re going to try to make it just like a normal event for us,” Allen said. “The day before we’ll go chip and putt and then we’ll put them in the host hotel Saturday night and then come out here Sunday for the practice round. Then we’ll be ready to go first thing Monday morning off No. 10 tee.”

Live scoring for the event can be found HERE.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.

Know Before You Go

What: 2022 NCAA Franklin Regional

Where: Vanderbilt Legends Club

When: 8 a.m. Monday-Wednesday

Who: Vanderbilt (Host team), ACC champion and No. 1 seed Wake Forest, Alabama, Texas A&M, Duke and Pac-12 runner-up Oregon State. Brigham Young, Kent State, Texas San Antonio, Augusta, Boston University and Austin Peay; Sera Hasegawa and Holli Muse of East Tennessee State, Mikayla Bardwell of Tennessee, Tara Bettle of North Carolina Greensboro, Dorota Zalewska of Chattanooga and Payton Carter of Murray State.

At Stake: The top four teams and top two individuals not on an advancing team qualify for the NCAA championships at Grayhawk Golf Club (Raptor Course) in Scottsdale, Arizona, from May 20-25.

Admission: Free