WWU Women Learn Opening Round Pairings for NAIA Tourney
KANSAS CITY -- After earning its eighth trip to the NAIA National Tournament in the past nine seasons by winning its ninth consecutive American Midwest Conference championship, the William Woods University women's golf team learned its opening round pairings for the 18th Annual NAIA Women's Golf National Championships, beginning May 15 at Link Hills Country Club in Greeneville, Tenn. The Owls will tee off starting at 8:20 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15, alongside teams from Concordia University and Rocky Mountain College.
William Woods is in the morning grouping on Tuesday, and will be in the second flight of teams to start from the 10th tee. The Owls are in the second threesome of schools to start the morning session, following the grouping of Lee University, Cal State San Marcos and Dakota Wesleyan University. The fifth golfer from each team will tee off first, with succeding threesomes getting underway in 10-minute intervals, with WWU's number one golfer set for a 9 a.m. start.
The remaining 16 teams in the 28-team field will be joined by the four individual qualifiers for the afternoon session on Tuesday to conclude opening round play. The groupings will then alternate on Wednesday for the second round, with the teams flipping start times as well. William Woods will tee off first in its six-team pod, partnering with Concordia and Rocky Mountain for a 1 p.m. start time on the first hole, with Lee, Cal State San Marcos and Dakota Wesleyan following at approximately 1:50 p.m.
WWU returns two NAIA All-Americans in Jada Bennington and Jamie Palermo to the tournament, with Palermo having also earned a spot on the 2011 All-Tournament team. The Owls have been solid throughout the season, debuting at no. 7 in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll and leaping to the no. 4 spot by year's end. Bennington also earned NAIA Women's Golfer of the Week honors following standout performances at the Washington University Spring Invitational and the WWU Spring invitational, powering the Owls to back-to-back team championships. The Owls have the fourth-best stroke average or all NAIA teams on the 2011-12 season and have compiled a 111-7 overall head-to-head record.
The pairings will be shuffled following the second round. The 144-player field is comprised of 15 automatic qualifying teams from conferences/independents/unaffiliated group tournaments and 13 at-large selections, which were determined using the final NAIA Women's Golf Coaches' Top 25 Poll released on Thursday. Additionally, four individuals earned a spot in the event as either a medalist at their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments or as an individual at-large selection.