PALOS VERDES, Calif. – No. 4 Washington will begin the spring season, beginning Sunday at the Northrop Grumman Challenge in Southern California. The tournament hosted by Ohio State will have an elite field with seven of the top-10 teams in the country competing.
The Dawgs are no stranger to entering the spring season with a high national ranking. Just a year ago, Washington was ranked No. 1, but after a solid season the Dawgs stumbled at the NCAA Regional and failed to make the NCAA Finals. This year, Washington will not pay attention to another lofty ranking, instead the Dawgs hope to compete all spring, including one round qualifying to prepare each player for the pressure at the end of the year.
“We learned a lot from last season,” said head coach Mary Lou Mulflur. “We are not going to pay attention to rankings at all this year. We are painfully aware that they don’t mean anything when trying to reach your goals.”
The Dawgs will be immediately tested against the best at the Northrop Grumman. No. 1 USC, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Duke and No. 5 Oklahoma join the fourth-ranked Dawgs to headline a field that includes the nation’s top-five teams. In addition, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 11 Pepperdine, No. 13 Arizona, No. 18 Florida and No. 20 Michigan State are ranked in the top-20. The rest of the field includes, Baylor, North Carolina, Ohio State, Texas and Wake Forest; all traditionally strong programs.
“It’s a great field this week,” said Mulflur. “That is how we schedule, we want to play against the best.”
The 2014 Northrop Grumman Challenge will be played at the Palos Verdes Golf Club on the 6,017-yard par 71. UCLA is the defending champion and holds the record of four Northrop Grumman titles. Last season, the Dawgs finished ninth at the tournament with a three-day total of 66-over 918.
This year, the Huskies will bring a lineup of Charlotte Thomas, SooBin Kim, Ying Luo, Jennifer Yang and Kelli Bowers. Bowers birdied 17 and 18 at Sahalee to get into a playoff for the final spot with Cyd Okino. Bowers then birdied the first hole to earn a spot on this week’s team.
The Dawgs are using 18-hole qualifying this spring to approximate the pressure of tournament play. With Okino, Eimi Koga and Monica Huang also playing well, there will be plenty of competition for the travel spots to each tournament.
The Northrop Grumman will feature 8:30 a.m. starts for the first two rounds with groups going off the 1st and 10th holes. For Tuesday’s final round, the leaders will play together for an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Live results will be available via golfstat.com.