By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
No. 12 Baylor women’s golf head coach Jay Goble has been to a golf course in 46 of the 50 United States. When the Bears were selected to the NCAA Pullman Regional Wednesday, Goble was presented the opportunity to check off one of the four states he’s never been to from the list.
As cool as it is for Goble to be able to explore uncharted territory, now he can’t give his squad any first-hand experience on the Palouse Ridge Golf Club that it’ll be playing at in Pullman, Wash. But Goble still said the course looks like it suits his team well in terms of the climate and style they’ll be playing in.
“I have a lot of players from Northern Europe and Ames, Iowa, and I don’t think the cool damp weather will affect any of us very much,” Goble said. “I think in a lot of ways it probably makes it better for us and exciting for them.”
The three-day tournament will take place Monday through Wednesday. Junior Britta Snyder, an Ames, Iowa, native, said the expected conditions are nothing new for her.
“Growing up in Iowa, I think our high school golf season, typically the first three weeks or month or so, we played snow as casual water, and you couldn’t take the pins out of the hole because the cups were frozen, like three inches deep,” Snyder said. “50 degrees doesn’t really sound that bad.”
Baylor was awarded a No. 2 seed for the Pullman Regional, and Stanford University, the 2022 national champs, were given the top seed. The Bears are appearing in an NCAA Tournament for the tenth time in the last 11 possible seasons (COVID-19) of Goble’s tenure. Baylor was a No. 3 seed in the Stillwater regional in 2022 and dominated to the tune of a win by 14 shots. This year also marked the 20th NCAA Regional berth in program history, all coming since 2000.
The Bears have been ranked for all of the spring, and Goble said the No. 2 seed is an indication of respect from the committee, but that his team earned it. The head coach in is 12th year added that his group hasn’t even hit its ceiling yet.
“The cool thing about that is we’re the No. 2 seed [and] I don’t think we’ve played our best golf this year yet,” Goble said. “I think getting all of them free and getting exams done and getting ready to go to play in regionals, they’re going to be ready to go, and if we get them all clicking on the same cylinders here at some point, we’re going to play some really good golf.”
Baylor will bring a lineup of freshman Silje Ohma, junior Rosie Belsham, Synder, sophomore Sera Hasegawa, senior Hannah Karg and sophomore BaiMai Seema as an alternate. The team is coming off a second place finish in the Big 12 Championship event that took place from April 21-23 in Dallas.
Now, the squad heads to Pullman to try to figure out the 54-hole tournament that will be on a par-72, 6,172-yard course at Palouse Ridge Golf Club. The format has also shifted this year, as the top five teams at each of the six regional sites will advance to the 2023 NCAA Championship. This is a newly implemented system, as it used to be the top four teams in the six regionals that would move on.
Karg led the Bears in the Big 12 championship with a 1-over 217 on the weekend, aiding in her sixth place finish on the individual leaderboard. The Hamburg, Germany native said being consistent is going to be the most important thing for the group in the regional.
“Looking at Big 12’s, I feel like we did a really good job in staying consistent,” Karg said. “We didn’t really have a high score on our team. That didn’t really help us at Big 12, but I feel like going into regionals, that’s going to be our advantage, because we just know that we are very consistent. We can rely on everybody else. If you make a bogey or another bogey, you know that the people playing in front or in the back are there to back you up.”
The other state that Goble will get to check off his list is Idaho, as he is having his team practice at The Coeur d’Alene Golf & Spa Resort located in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene. The team will practice there Saturday before they get acclimated to the course in Pullman in preparation for the start of the regionals on Monday.
Even though Goble can’t offer his expertise to his lineup ahead of this opening round of the postseason, he said he knows this team is capable of living up to the No. 2 seed it was given.
“We can only control what we can control,” Goble said. “I think that there’s teams out there that are really good. I think that we rank right up there with the best teams in that field, obviously, but we’re only going to try to control our business and go out there and play golf the way we know how and if we do that, we’re going to advance easily.”