NORMAN — Say hello to Oklahoma women’s golf.
The Sooners begin a three-day run as NCAA regional hosts today at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club and the Sooners, if not overwhelming favorites to win the regional, are at least an overwhelming favorite to place in the top eight and return to the NCAA tournament, which begins May 21 in Athens, Ga.
Mostly, all the Sooners can hope for is to continue and improve upon the ride that began last year at this time, when they went from obscurity into the heart of the national championship picture.
“It’s been so fun and it’s really crazy,” said Emily Collins, who plays No. 4 in OU’s five-player lineup. “Coming in, we really didn’t know the potential that we really had, so it’s exciting.
“I think we can still do better things.”
Here’s a refresher.
A year ago, in Erie, Colo., at the NCAA West Regional, OU began the final round in 14th place needing to leapfrog six spots to reach the NCAA tournament field.
That day, Chirapat Jao-Javenil fired a 2-under par 70 to secure a fifth-place individual finish, while her teammates added rounds of 71, 73 and 75. That put OU in eighth place, earning the regional’s final qualifying position for the national tournament.
Once there, at Vanderbilt’s Legends Club North Course, in Franklin, Tenn., OU finished an amazing sixth, while Jao-Javenil won medalist honors, claiming a personal national championship after posting a 72-hole total of 6-under par 282.
Experiencing success left the Sooners wanting to experience more success. Or, perhaps, wanting to show everybody their success was no fluke.
“I think we feel like we still need to prove ourselves and keep improving,” Jao-Javenil said Wednesday, after a final regional practice round. “I think throughout the whole year, that’s what we’ve been focusing on, trying to validate (our success).”