Camels headed to NCAA East Regional in Tallahassee

Kaylin Yost, Head Coach John Crooks
(Tim Cowie photo)
Kaylin Yost, Head Coach John Crooks (Tim Cowie photo)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – For the 17th time in 22 years, Campbell University is heading to post-season play in women's golf.  The Big South Conference champions will play May 8-10 at the NCAA East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla. 

After winning five tournaments this season, including an automatic regional berth in the Big South Conference championship, Coach John Crooks' team will compete at SouthWood Golf Club.  Rated No.-45 nationally in this week's Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking and No.-53 by Golfstat, the Camels are one of 72 teams plus 18 individuals nationally to earn a post-season bid.

Campbell will be seeded 17th of 24 teams at the event, which also includes six individuals.  Duke is the top-seeded school.  Atlantic Sun champ East Tennessee State is seeded 15th and Georgia 16th, just ahead of the Camels.  East Carolina is the 18th seed, Texas State 19th and Colonial Athletic Association champ College of Charleston 20th.

"This group of young ladies has had a great season," said Coach Crooks.  "When you start a season, you talk about getting a little better each day and we have been getting a little better.  All five of these young ladies have been getting better.  We're fortunate to be led by our captain and two-time conference player of the year Kaylin Yost, but we've never been a one-person show.  We have a group of five talented people who have been competing against each other all year long."

The top eight teams and top two individuals from each of three regional sites will advance to the NCAA Championship May 20-23 at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club.

As a team, the Camels rank seventh in the nation in birdies (359 through 11 events), while three of CU's players rank among the nation's top 250 in the Golfstat Cup.  Kaylin Yost is No.-69 (73.2 stroke average), Tahnia Ravnjak No.-180 (77.48) and Lisbeth Brooks No.-231 (74.77).

Yost was named Big South golfer of the year and was joined on the all-conference team by Brooks, Ali Prazak, Ravnjak and Big South Championship medalist Louise Latorre.  Latorre, Ravnjak and Yost earned spots on the Big South all-championship team by finishing 1-2-3 in the event.

Crooks, who was inducted into National Golf Coaches Assocation Hall of Fame in 2006, has guided his women to 12 conference titles and nine runner-up finishes in 23 years.  Crooks ranks fourth all-time and second among active Division I head coaches with 75 career tournament victories. 

Yost, who was named the Big South player of the year both in 2012 and 2014, leads the conference in stroke average.  She is ranked No.-69 nationally by Golfstat and No.-115 by Golfweek.  According to Golfstat, Yost is tied for 13th in the country with 86 birdies (30 rounds) and is seventh in short game percentage (.628).  She is 36th in subpar strokes per round (2.93), 46th in par-5 scoring (4.87) and 48th in average score (73.2).

A senior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Yost has produced six top-10 individual finishes in 11 outings this year, including her third (Fighting Camel Fall Classic) and fourth (John Kirk Panther Intercollegiate) collegiate first-place finishes.  She matched her collegiate low with a 67 in the second round of the Georgia State John Kirk event.

Yost finished third in the Big South event (69-73-73—215), the third time in four seasons she has placed among the top-10 individuals at her conference championship.

Ravnjak was the runner-up (72-69-73—214) by one stroke at the Big South Championship and stands third in the league with a 74.48 stroke average.  The sophomore from Cordeaux Heights, Australia rates No.-180 nationally by Golfstat and is 43rd in the country in short game percentage (.550).  She shot a career-low 66 on the final day to win the Golfweek Program Challenge last September.

The 2013 Big South Conference freshman of the year, Ravnjak has produced five top-10 finishes in her sophomore campaign, including 8th-place ties at the Fighting Camel Fall Classic and the John Kirk Panther Intercollegiate.

A three-time All-Big South performer, Brooks tied for seventh at the league tourney, her third-straight top-10 showing at the conference championship.  The junior from Waunakee, Wis., stands 231st in the nation (Golfstat) and fifth in the conference with a 74.77 stroke average.

Named Big South freshman of the year in 2012, Brooks has six top-10 individual performances this season.  She set a collegiate low in the second round (67) during the UNCG Starmount Fall Classic.  She finished fifth at the Golfweek Program Challenge, where Campbell claimed the team title for the third-straight year.

Latorre won her first collegiate tournament to claim individual honors and break the Big South individual 54-hole score by one stroke (68-73-72—213).  The freshman from Pau, France produced one top-10 individual finish in her first nine events of the year, but tied a Big South Championship record for lowest round (68) to take the opening day lead.

Also a member of the Big South all-freshman team, Latorre stands ninth in the league with a 75.89 scoring average.  She is 19th nationally in greens in regulation percentage (.712) according to Golfstat.

Fellow freshman Nadine White of Brisbane, Australia produced a 75.92 stroke average and finished among the top-20 individuals three times in four events during the spring season.  She tied for 13th at the Big South Championship, just six weeks after making her collegiate debut at the Miami Hurricane Invitational, where she shot 70 in the second round and tied for 19th overall.

As a team, Campbell set Big South Conference records for 18- (278), 36- (567) and 54-hole (213) totals in winning the league title by 30 strokes Apr. 13-15 at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety-Six, S.C.

In addition to ranking seventh nationally in birdies, Campbell stands fourth as a team in short game percentage (.518), 14th in greens in regulation percentage (.642), 15th in par-five scoring (4.97), 17th in subpar strokes per round (2.45), 22nd in par-3 scoring (3.19) and 24th in both average score (74.9) and score vs. par (+3.27).

Named one of the Top 35 New Courses in America by Golf Magazine and among America's Best New Courses by Golf Digest, SouthWood was also named one of the Top 50 Courses for women by Women in Golf Magazine and voted Tallahassee's Best Golf Course by Tallahassee Magazine.  Designed by PGA Tour legend Fred Couples and his renowned design partner, architect Gene Bates, SouthWood Golf Club is an upscale public facility nestled among rolling hills, pastureland, and ancient oak trees draped in Spanish moss.

"In our program's history, once we've advanced (1997) and two years ago we were within two strokes with three holes to play, and we didn't make it," said Crooks.  "But we control our destiny.  If we play well, some great things can happen for us." 

2014 NCAA Women's Golf East Regional
Dates: Thursday, May 8-Saturday, May 10
Location / Course: Tallahasse, Fla. / SouthWood GC
Par: 72
Format: 18-18-18

Field (24 teams): 1. Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference), 2. South Carolina, 3. Stanford (Pac-12 Conference), 4. Vanderbilt (Southeastern Conference), 5. Pepperdine (West Coast Conference), 6. Central Florida, 7. Virginia, 8. Auburn, 9. North Carolina State, 10. Florida State, 11. Kentucky, 12. Tulane (Conference USA), 13. Louisville (American Athletic Conference), 14. Baylor, 15. East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun Conference), 16. Georgia, 17. Campbell (Big South Conference), 18. East Carolina, 19. Texas State, 20. College of Charleston (Colonial Athletic Association), 21. Troy (Sun Belt Conference), 22. Murray State (Ohio Valley Conference), 23. Seton Hall (Big East Conference), 24. Alabama State (Southwestern Athletic Conference).

Individuals: 1. Lori Beth Adams, UNC Wilmington, 2. Ellen Ceresko, Penn State, 3. Lacey Fears, Mercer, 4. Kaew Preamchuen, Kennesaw State, 5. Abby Newton, Mississippi, 6. Christina Vosters, Penn State.