BRYAN, Texas -- The 19th-ranked Furman women's golf team advanced to the NCAA Championship after scoring a fourth-place finish Saturday at the NCAA Bryan Regional in Bryan, Texas, at the par-72, 6,373 yard Traditions Golf Course.
The Paladins, who are making their 17th appearance at the NCAA Championship, were part of an 18-team regional field that battled for a top six finish and a berth in the 24-team NCAA Championship, which is set to be held May 20-25 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. Furman last reached the NCAA Championship in 2008, when the Paladins claimed an eighth-place finish at the NCAA East Regional in Athens, Ga., to advance to the NCAA Championship in Albuquerque, N.M.
Sophomore Alice Chen (-3), the 2016 SoCon Co-Player of the Year, recorded three birdies on Saturday to pace the Paladins with a 71. Chen tied for sixth, four strokes back of individual winners Bronte Law (-7) of UCLA and Georgia's Bailey Tardy (-7) who led the field with a three-round 209.
Junior Taylor Totland (+3), who earned All-American honorable mention accolades in 2015, tied for 24th after scoring three birdies for a 75 in the final round, while rookie Haylee Harford (+4), the 2016 SoCon Freshman of the Year, added birdies on No. 5 and No. 9 to tie for 27th.
Sophomore Jacqueline Bendrick (+6) shot a 74 with three birdies, including consecutive birdies on No. 11 and No. 12, tying for 32nd, and senior Valentina Romero (+16) tallied three birdies on the back nine, including back-to-back birdies on No. 17 and No. 18 to finish the round, to tie for 71st.
Sixth-ranked Georgia (-6) won the regional by six strokes over No. 11 Arizona (E). Third-ranked UCLA (+1) was third, followed by the Paladins (+9). No. 43 Miami (+13) and 29th-ranked Texas (+15) captured the final two spots to advance to the NCAA Championship.
"It took a team effort to advance today," said Furman head coach Kelley Hester, the 2016 SoCon Coach of the Year, who is in her fourth year at the helm of the Paladin program. "I couldn't be more proud of this group of girls and all they have accomplished. While it's always a relief to make it through the regional, this team has been solid all year and has proven that it can compete with the nation's best. We look forward to that opportunity later this month in Eugene."
Furman, who secured the Southern Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by capturing its 15th SoCon Championship last month at Savannah Quarters Golf Club in Savannah, Ga., made its second-consecutive and 19th overall NCAA Regional appearance. The Paladins appeared in 17-straight regionals from 1993, when the regional format began, until 2010. Furman tied for 10th at last season's NCAA East Regional in Raleigh.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information
4 Furman 288 286 299 873 +9
T6 Alice Chen 72 70 71 213 -3
T24 Taylor Totland 73 71 75 219 +3
T27 Haylee Harford 71 70 79 220 +4
T32 Jacqueline Bendrick 72 76 74 222 +6
T71 Valentina Romero 78 75 79 232 +16