Cyclones Ecstatic After Securing NCAA Finals Berth
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It marks the only time a women’s golf program from the state of Iowa has qualified to the Division I national tournament since the regional format was introduced in 1993.
Iowa State, ranked 23rd nationally by Golfweek, punched its ticket by tying for sixth at the NCAA West Regional in Elum, Washington over the weekend. The top eight teams advanced to the national finals and a solid final-round 304 in tough, windy conditions helped the Cyclones break through. ISU had fallen agonizingly short of qualifying in the four years prior. This time the Cyclones would not be denied.
“It’s really exciting to finally say, ‘okay, we’ve done it,’” Iowa State head coach Christie Martens said. “Now we will see what the next step is once we get there. We will focus on having a good week of practice in order to be prepared.”
Martens has elevated the ISU golf program to new heights in her 10-year stint as the Cyclone leader. Martens has led ISU to five-straight NCAA Regional appearances and produced the top players in school history along the way. It was extremely satisfying for Martens to see her two seniors – Sasikarn On-iam and Prima Thammaraks- end their brilliant careers in style.
“Seeing the seniors make it, that was really exciting,” Martens said. “They’ve wanted it so much and they’ve been working so hard for it for four years, but especially this year. They’ve put a real emphasis on it. So, for Prim (Thammaraks) to be able to come through like that was awesome. And Sass (On-iam) made birdie on the last hole. It was an exciting culmination of everything that they’ve done.”
Thammaraks was the Cyclone catalyst in the final round. With temperatures hovering in the 50s and winds gusting up to 35 mph, the senior carded the second-best round of the last 18 holes with an even-par 72. It was a gutty performance by the Cyclone.
“It feels really awesome,” Thammaraks said. “Personally, it hasn’t hit me yet. It’s been my goal for my whole career. My freshman year we missed it by just a little bit. We’ve worked hard all season just for this. To see that it’s happening is just really awesome.”
As it turned out, the Cyclones didn’t have to sweat getting in down the stretch.
“It’s crazy, because we ended up making it by 15 shots and when you’re out there it feels like every putt could be the determining factor,” Martens said. “Every shot seems so crucial and there have been so many tournaments where it has come down to one shot and one putt. So, I think they all did a really good job of fighting and staying tough. After the front nine we were in 11th place. The back nine was much tougher, especially 10, 11 and 17. For the team to stay tough and play well through that shows what kind of team they are.”
The NCAA finals will be contested at the Tulsa Country Club, a course built in 1908. The historic course will play as a par-70 at 6,194 yards.
“It’s a longer course with a lot of water and big greens,” said Martens. “We are really excited.”