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Women’s golf aiming for NCAA Championship in uncharted territory

Matt Edwards / Lantern reporter

“Our job is to get to the national championship. And that’s what we’re going to do. Period.”

Those were Ohio State women’s golf coach Therese Hession’s words before her squad began competition in the NCAA Regional Tournament at Notre Dame two weeks ago.

She wasn’t lying.

The team has arrived in Bryan, Texas, where it will compete in the NCAA Championships at Traditions Golf Club, a par 72, 6,260-yard course, and home to Texas A&M’s golf team.

The course was co-designed by OSU golf legend Jack Nicklaus and his son, Jack Nicklaus II.

Being in the tournament is an accomplishment, but it isn’t enough to satisfy this team.

“We all want to win. We want to win so bad. We’re so ready for this,” sophomore Susana Benavides said.

While they’re excited to compete in the tournament, it isn’t a course the Buckeyes are familiar with.

“We know nothing about it. We didn’t get invited to the preview,” senior In Hong Lim said. “Coach is going to tell me a lot about it. … She knows every golf course that we play.”

“It’s a very much shot maker’s golf course. You’ve got to be really precise with your landing areas,” Hession said of the course. “The NCAA will put all the pins to the edge of the green, which makes it even more challenging.”

An unfamiliar course isn’t the only challenge the Buckeyes face in Texas.

The weather is expected to be in the mid-to-high 80s for most of the tournament, and humidity levels are anticipated to be near 70 percent.

“It’s 98 degrees down there right now and most of our tournaments have been in the 40s and 50s,” Hession said. “The temperature is going to be something that’s going to be very hard to prepare for.”

Benavides agreed.

“We’ve been trying to hydrate ourselves by drinking a lot of water and being out here as many hours as we can and getting really tired,” Benavides said. “I think we’ll be fine. We miss playing in the warm weather.”

The Buckeyes were tied for 10th after one day at the regional tournament — in this tournament, Hession said they need to have a better opening day.

“I really want us to get off to a really solid start at the beginning,” Hession said. “From there, if we can stay away from the big numbers and be consistent, I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Lim wants a strong showing, but she’s trying to capture the moment as well.

“I just want to enjoy it. It’s my last tournament as a student-athlete. I’m just happy to finish at nationals, not regionals,” she said during practice May 10.

The Buckeyes are one of 24 teams that made the NCAA National Championships. OSU qualified by finishing sixth in the NCAA Central Regional, composed of a 24-team field, two weeks ago.

There were three regional tournaments across the country, and the top eight teams in each tournament advanced to this week’s NCAA National Championships.

As in the regional tournament, in which the Buckeyes were seeded 10th, the team will continue to play the underdog card.

Golfweek ranks OSU 30th in the country, and the Buckeyes didn’t receive a single vote to be in the NCAA’s final top-25 rankings of the season, which were posted at the beginning of the month.

OSU is one of three Big Ten teams that made the tournament, alongside Minnesota and Purdue.

Purdue, which is making its 12th straight appearance in the NCAA Championships, won the event to capture the national title last season.

The Buckeyes last made the tournament during the 2008–09 season, finishing 24th.

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