The Georgia women’s golf team will tee off in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET. The fifth-seeded Bulldogs will be paired with No. 4 seed Arizona and No. 6 seed TCU for the opening round.
Georgia, which is ranked No. 27 by Golfweek and No. 28 by Golfstat, is the No. 5 seed among the 12 teams and six individuals competing at the University of New Mexico’s Championship Golf Course. There are 72 teams and 36 individuals competing at six Regionals on Monday-Wednesday looking to advance to the NCAA Championships. The top-4 teams (24 total) and top-2 individuals not on those teams (12 total) will advance to the NCAAs at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., on May 20-25.
Georgia will employ the same lineup the Bulldogs’ utilized at the SEC Championships which features seniors Jenny Bae and Jo Hua Hung, juniors Caterina Don and Candice Mahé and freshman LoraLie Cowart. In addition, junior Céleste Dao will travel as a potential substitute golfer.
“In a way, it’s the three most important rounds of the year,” head caoch Josh Brewer said. “Seeding doesn’t matter now. You just go there wanting to play well. We’ll enjoy it, but we know we have some work to do. It’s a business trip, and we’re going to make it a fun business trip. We know what we can do when our minds are right.”
A year ago, Georgia swept the team and individual titles at the NCAA Columbus Regional. Jenny Bae shot 4-under 212 to capture medalist honors and lead the Bulldogs to an impressive 15-shot victory over a field that featured No. 2 Duke. Georgia then finished 18th at the NCAAs, the program’s 27th top-20 effort in the last 43 years.
“Last year, I won individually and the team won first place,” Bae said. “I think that we’re going to bring back those memories and somehow pull up all that positive energy and go (to Albuquerque) very confidently.”
Georgia is one of just three women’s golf programs to sweep Regional titles twice since 2016. The Bulldogs also did so in Bryan, Texas in 2016. The others are Stanford (Albuquerque in 2017 & Stanford in 2021) and South Carolina (Baton Rouge in 2016 & Columbus in 2017).
Georgia’s trip to Albuquerque will be its second – of hopefully three – tournaments on desert courses this season. With the NCAA Championships slated for Scottsdale, the Bulldogs traveled to Mesa, Ariz., to compete the Clover Cup earlier this spring.
“That’s why we went and played out in Arizona in March,” Brewer said. “I know the Regional is in New Mexico, but still it’s desert golf. We spent a week out there practicing and preparing so you hope that pays off.”
Three Bulldogs notched top-20 finishes at Longbow Golf Club, with Caterina Don tying or 10th, Bae tying for 15th and Jo Hua Hung tying for 19th. Georgia was sixth in the 17-team event.
“I think for me, playing desert golf the biggest difference is visually,” Hung said. “In the desert there aren’t many trees and it’s wide open so I need to pick specific targets on my tee shots. Also, the weather is super-dry so that feels different too.”
Georgia being ranked in the mid-20s nationally is a little deceiving after the Bulldogs spent much of the fall campaign ranked among the nation’s top-15 teams. Georgia fired a school single-round record of 14-under at the Cougar Classic and shot 15-under – the second-best 54-hole mark ever – to win the team title at the Illini Invitational at Medinah Country Club.
However, the Bulldogs dropped dramatically after a 13th-place showing at the Stanford Intercollegiate when they played the final two rounds in a play-four, count-four situation without Bae. After covering their first nine fall rounds at a combined 25-under as a team, Georgia shot 39-over in California.
Bulldogs Boast Strong History In National Championship Play
Georgia has long been one of the college golf’s premier women’s programs, headlined by four total national titles – one team and three individual.
The Bulldogs won the 2001 NCAA title. Terri Moody earned medalist honors at the 1981 AIAW Championships at the UGA Golf Course, while Cindy Schreyer and Vicki Goetze took home individual crowns at the 1984 and 1992 NCAA Championships, respectively.
Those performances are the peak of Georgia’s rich history. As a team, the Bulldogs sport 20 top-10 and 27 top-20 team finishes at AIAW and NCAA Championships since 1979. Individually, Georgia golfers have produced 36 top-20 efforts at the national championships.
Since the NCAA went to a Regional format in 1993, Georgia also has claimed five team and three individual titles. The Bulldogs won East Regional crowns in 1993, 1998 and 1999, the Bryan Regional in 2016 and the Columbus Regional last spring. The trio of Georgia golfers who have captured medalist honors are Reilley Rankin in 1998, Bailey Tardy in 2016 and Jenny Bae in 2021.
Bulldogs Know How To Win
Every member of Georgia’s lineup has impressive individual titles to their names.
Jenny Bae was a three-time winner in a weeklong span last summer, capturing top honors at the Georgia Women’s Amateur, the Georgia Women’s Open and a U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier between June 30-July 5.
Jo Hua Hung recorded seven victories in the three years before she arrived at Georgia, including a quartet of wins in U.S. events.
Caterina Don is one of only two Georgia golfers to win their collegiate debut, shooting 9-under at the 2019 Minnesota Invitational. She also captured medalist honors at the 2019 European Girls’ Team Championship, where her 12-under tally was four strokes better than the rest of the field.
Candice Mahé won five times on European soil before coming to the U.S. to compete collegiately. Most notably, she took top honors at the 2018 French Girls’ Amateur by 12 strokes and captured the 2019 Spanish International Ladies Amateur by defeating Italy’s Alessia Nobilio in the title match.
LoraLie Cowart was tabbed Georgia’s High School Player of the Year in 2021 after winning medalist honors at the class 6A state tournament. She was also the wire-to-wire winner at the 2020 National High School Golf Association Invitational at Pinehurst, where she birdied her final two holes to clinch the two-stroke victory.