The NCAA Division I Golf Championships get underway on Friday with the first round of the women’s championship. The men’s championship will begin the following Friday, May 28.
Here is what you need to know before the first tee ball is struck:
Where is it? The Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club, Scottsdale, Arizona
When is it? May 21-June 2
Women’s stroke play: May 21-24
Women’s quarterfinals and semifinals: May 25
Women’s final: May 26
Men’s stroke play: May 28-31;
Men’s quarterfinals and semifinal: June 1
Men’s final: June 2
Who is playing? Women: 24 teams, 12 individuals; Men: 30 teams, six individuals
How do teams qualify for the NCAA National Championsips? Via NCAA regional tournaments. There were four women’s regionals with six teams and three individuals advancing out of each. There were six men’s regionals with five teams and one individual advancing out of each.
What are they playing for? At each championship, an individual title will be awarded at the end of stroke play. A cut will be made after the first 54 holes to the top 15 teams and top nine individuals not on advancing teams. Also, the top eight teams after 72 holes will qualify for match play, with the top seed playing the eight seed, second seed playing the seventh seed, and so on. A team champion will be crowned at the end of the single-elimination, match-play portion.
How does the scoring work? Each team starts five players in stroke play, with the low four scores counting each day toward the team total. In match play, all five players compete, and the team that wins the most matches wins the overall match. There are no ties in match play.
Are there substitutions? Yes. For the men’s championship, teams are able to substitute players in and out of their lineups for both stroke play and match play. Teams are permitted to travel with a sixth player and coaches can make a substitution between any round. On the women’s side, subs are only allowed for match play.
Who are the defending champions? Duke defeated Wake Forest in the women’s final in 2019 while Stanford topped Texas in the men’s final that year. Last year’s NCAA Championships were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both 2019 individual champions – Arkansas’ Maria Fassi (women) and Oklahoma State’s Matthew Wolff (men) – are now professionals.
Who are the favorites for the 2021 NCAA Divison 1 Women's National Golf Championship this year? According to the Golfstat rankings, the top women’s teams are:
South Carolina (1), Duke (2), LSU (3), Wake Forest (4), Ole Miss (5), Stanford (6), Oklahoma State (7), Southern California (8), Florida State (9) and Arizona State (10).
The top women’s individuals are Arizona State’s Linn Grant (1), Stanford’s Rachel Heck (2), LSU’s Ingrid Lindblad (3), Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark (4) and Houston’s Karen Fredgaard (5). The men’s field will be determined after regionals conclude on May 19.
2021 NCAA Division 1 Golf Championships: Top women’s storylines
1. Barely here. South Carolina might be the top-ranked team in the country, but the Gamecocks almost didn’t qualify. They tied for sixth last week at the Louisville Regional and needed to beat Arkansas in a one-hole team playoff to advance. South Carolina made four birdies and an eagle on that extra hole, and it will enter nationals likely more focused after a huge wakeup call.
2. Who’s this year’s sleeper? Two years after Auburn made a surprise run to the semifinals, the team the Tigers beat in the quarterfinals, Texas, is flying under the radar this year. One of the preseason title favorites, the Longhorns have struggled this season and are ranked 17th in the country. However, there is a lot of talent on this squad, most notably senior Kaitlyn Papp.
3. Arizona State hosting. The Sun Devils aren’t just one of the top teams in the country, but they also will host their first of three straight NCAA Championships. With the home support and added motivation from their head coach, Missy Farr-Kaye, who is battling cancer for a third time, Arizona State will have plenty to play for.
4. Who will win the Annika Award? Entering the NCAA Championship, the race for women’s college golf’s player of the year is a tight one. Stanford’s Rachel Heck is the slight frontrunner with five wins, including conference and regional championships, while Arizona State’s Linn Grant and South Carolina’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard each have four individual victories. It’s likely that if any one of about four or five players win the NCAA individual title, they will also win the Annika.
5. Will the teams from the Baton Rouge Regional be rusty? LSU, Ole Miss, Baylor, Oregon, Maryland and Alabama got a free pass out of regionals after their site was canceled without a single shot being struck because of heavy rain. However, when those schools tee it up Friday in the first round at Grayhawk, it will mark their first competitive round as a team in over a month.
NCAA Women's Golf National Championship: Great Britain and Ireland players to watch
Women (listed in order of WAGR)
19. Olivia Mehaffey
Sr., Arizona State, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Mehaffey is a fifth-year senior and the only senior on the Sun Devils roster. She owns 25 top-10s, including four wins, in her college career. She was also top 10 at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and was on the initial GB&I Curtis Cup squad released in December.
26. Lauren Walsh
Soph., Wake Forest, Kildare, Ireland
Walsh leads the Demon Deacons with a 71.67 scoring average in six events. She also hasn’t finished outside of the top 15 this season. She’s also on the initial GB&I Curtis Cup squad.
37. Emily Price
Jr., Kent State, Ludlow, England
After transferring from South Carolina, where she was once SEC Freshman of the Year, before this season, Price has posted five top-6 finishes in six events for the Golden Flashes this season, including a runner-up at the Mid-American Conference Championship. She was also last year’s English Women’s Amateur champion and is on the initial GB&I Curtis Cup squad.
46. Charlotte Heath
Fr., Florida State, Bailiff Bridge, England
One of two Englishwomen on the Seminoles roster along with junior Amelia Williamson, Heath has four top-10s in seven events this season and is second on the team in scoring average (72.35) behind Sweden’s Beatrice Wallin. She also won the Australian Women’s Amateur two winters ago and is on the initial GB&I Curtis Cup squad.
66. Caley McGinty
Soph., Kent State, Bristol, England
McGinty has won three times this season and was recently runner-up at the NCAA Columbus Regional. She’s also on the initial GB&I Curtis Cup squad.
82. Annabel Wilson
Soph., UCLA, Lurgan, Northern Ireland
Wilson has four top-10s this season, including a T-7 at the Pac-12 Championship, and is one of just three Bruins to have played all seven events this season along with Austrai’s Emma Spitz and Italy’s Emilie Paltrinieri. She’s also on the initial GB&I Curtis Cup squad.
93. Lianna Bailey
Jr., Oklahoma State, Leicester, England
Bailey notched her first two college individual wins this year, at the Kissing Tree Invitational and The Bruzzy.
View the 2021 NCAA National Golf Championships GolfPass streaming schedule, available to Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland members.
The NCAA Women’s Championship Streaming Schedule
(All times BST)
May 24: 10pm-2am: Individual Championship
May 25: 5-7.30pm: Team Quarterfinals
May 25: 10pm-2am: Team Semifinals
May 26: 10pm-2am: Team Championship
The NCAA Men’s Championship Streaming Schedule
(All times BST)
May 31: 10pm-2am: Individual Championship
June 1: 5-7.30pm: Team Quarterfinals
June 1: 10pm-2am: Team Semifinals
June 2: 10pm-2am: Team Championship