NU, Illini women receive NCAA golf bids

Northwestern and Illinois were both selected to play in the NCAA women’s golf championship, the finals of which will be played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove next month. To get to Rich Harvest, however, both teams must survive regional tournaments.

Coach Emily Fletcher’s Northwestern team was awarded the No. 3 seed in a regional to be played at The Champions Course in Albuquerque, N.M. The University of New Mexico will host that event. Illinois drew the No. 8 seed in a regional on the University of Georgia’s course in Athens. All teams learned their fate via The Golf Channel’s selection show on Thursday morning.

Notre Dame’s Emma Albrecht was selected as an individual and will compete in the regional on Ohio State’s Scarlet course in Columbus, Ohio. The regional tournaments will run May 8-10.

Each of four regionals were assigned 18 teams and six individual qualifiers. Those 834 golfers will be whittled to 132 for the finals at Rich Harvest, which run from May 19-24.

Northwestern, an NCAA qualifier for the fifth straight year, had its best NCAA finish last year – a tie for ninth, one stroke shy of qualifying for the match play climax to the tournament. NU was second in last week’s Big Ten Championships behind Michigan State, but the Wildcats drew a far better NCAA seed than the Spartans, who were tabbed No. 14 in the same regional.

Four other Big Ten teams – Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin – were assigned to the Columbus regional.

Fletcher learned of her team’s assignment at Rich Harvest, where owner Jerry Rich was gearing his club up to host another big tournament.

The NCAA men’s finals will also be played at Rich Harvest as soon as the women’s tournament is over. That climax to the collegiate season will run from May 26-31 and the men’s teams will learn their regional assignments next Thursday.

One of the men’s selection announcement gatherings will be at Wrigley Field. Mike Small, coach of Illinois’ perennial powerhouse, and Luke Donald, an NCAA individual champion while a student at Northwestern, will be throwing out the first ball at the Cubs-Phillies game that day and Donald is also scheduled to sing at the Seventh Inning Stretch.