W. Golf: Seminoles Begin Play In NCAA Championship Friday (2023)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Florida State. Southern Cal. Stanford. Texas.

The No. 9 ranked and No. 8 seeded Florida State Women’s Golf Team begins play on Friday as one of only four schools who have played in each of the last seven NCAA Championship Finals. The Seminoles, who have appeared in each championship event since 2016, advancing to match play, finishing fifth in 2022 – the highest finish in school history.

“Earning your way to the championship finals is something you can never take for granted,” said Seminole Head Coach Amy Bond. “It is an accomplishment that I am very proud of. We are very fortunate at Florida State. We have tremendous support from our administration who has blessed our program with a course and a practice facility that is second to none, supporters who are with us every step of the way, a staff who has worked tirelessly to maintain a high standard of excellence, and student-athletes who have committed themselves to incredibly successful achievement both on the course and the classroom.”

The success of the Florida State women is mirrored by the Seminole men, who finished in third place at the NCAA Morgan Hill Regional Championship to secure their place in the 2023 Men’s NCAA Championship finals. Florida State is joined by only Georgia and Texas as the three schools whose men’s and women’s programs have advanced to each of the last three NCAA Championships.

The Seminoles will make their 14th appearance in the Finals when they begin play on Friday at 3:25 p.m. Florida State’s appearance in the 2023 NCAA Championship Finals marks the first time in school history Florida State has competed in the NCAA golf championship finals in seven consecutive seasons.

The 30-team field includes No. 1 seed Stanford, No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 South Carolina, No. 5 Mississippi State, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 San Jose State, No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Southern California, No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Baylor, No. 12 Northwestern, No. 13 Pepperdine, No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 15 Ole Miss, No. 16 Clemson, No. 17 SMU, No. 18 Duke, No. 19 Arizona, No. 20 Oklahoma State, No. 21 Virginia, No. 22 Georgia, No. 23 Texas Tech, No. 24 Michigan, No. 25 TCU, No. 26 Tulsa, No. 27 New Mexico, No. 28 NC State, No. 29 Oregon State, and No. 30 Augusta along with six individual players from six different schools. The championship will be played at Grayhawk Country Club – a 6,384 yard, Par 72 course that has hosted the NCAA Division I women and men’s championships the last two seasons.

“We began the season as one of 266 teams in the country who all had the goal of getting to this point; now we are one of 30 teams playing for the National Championship at the site of the finals,” said Bond. “To still be playing in the third week of May is a testament to how hard the girls have worked, and I am so happy for them. At Florida State, our goal every year is to get to the National Finals and give ourselves an opportunity to win a National Championship.”

Bond was announced earlier this week as a finalist for the Division I Jackie Steinmann National Coach of the Year award.

Florida State finished in fifth place at the NCAA Raleigh Regional Championship to advance to the NCAA Championship Finals.

The Seminoles’ lineup for the 2023 NCAA Championship Finals (senior Amelia Williamson, juniors Alice Hodge and Charlotte Heath, sophomore Kaylah Williams and freshman Lottie Woad) includes three golfers ranked in Florida State’s all-time top-10 (Woad, 2; Heath, 3; Williamson, 9), four ranked in the top-15 (Hodge, 14) and five in the top-25 (Williams, 25). All six golfers (Madison Hewlett is also a member of the Seminoles’ rotation) are ranked within Florida State’s all-time top-32 for career stroke average.

“This time of the year, it’s really a group effort,” said Bond. They came together as a group, and it took all six (players). All six contributed a counting score to get us through the regional. Not many teams can say they’ve got that depth-wise.”

Heath, Woad, and Williamson have garnered much of the attention. Each of those three players earned All-ACC honors, and Woad honored as the ACC Freshman of the Year. Nationally, Heath is one of 10 finalists for the ANNIKA Award as the National Player of the Year, while Woad is one of five finalists for the Division I National Freshman of the Year award sponsored by the WGCA.

“Each of our players has worked really hard to get here,” said Bond. “I’m thrilled for them as a group to have this opportunity.”

Bond pointed to the play of Hodge, who carded a 74 and Williams, who carded a career-low tying 72 in the final round of the regional, as two of the major reasons the Seminoles are playing during the final week of the season.

“We got some big play (in the regional),” said Bond. “Alice Hodge, we got a big day out of her. She sat for two days, didn’t play, and came back and shot two-over. That was big. Kaylah shot her best round of the post season and was even par. Those two really came in clutch.

“I always talk about our big three – our English players who have played really well all year. But, at this time of the year, it’s really a group effort, and they came together as a group. It took all six. I’m hoping their play in the regional is really a confidence booster for them and will drive them into the national championship.”

One of Florida State’s advantages at Grayhawk this week is certainly the familiarity with the course. Heath and Hodge (in 2021 and 2022) along with Williamson (in 2021) have all played multiple rounds on the course which has been described as “receptive” by Bond, the all-time winningest women’s golf coach in school history.

Heath, who leads the Seminoles with a single-season Florida State record 70.57 stroke average, agrees that the knowledge of the course can certainly be an advantage for her and her Florida State teammates.

“I think it’s definitely good knowing the course,” said Heath. “If you are struggling with your game, it’s so much easier knowing where you can, and cannot, miss because you’ve got so much experience on that golf course. It also takes some nerves out of it for me. Being able to be comfortable on a course; to be familiar is nice. The scores are always pretty similar every year (at Grayhawk) so you kind of know what you have to go out and shoot before you tee off.”

Heath has been the Seminoles’ most consistent golfer this year with 20 of her 28 rounds scored at par or better and 27 of her 28 scores at 74 or below, leading to her single-season career low average in her third season as a Seminole.

Heath, who played in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur along with Williamson and Woad earlier this season, was as surprised as anyone to be named as a finalist for the ANNIKA award.

“I was surprised, honestly,” said Heath. “I don’t feel like I’ve played that well this season. I feel like it’s been slow, steady progress. It’s nice that (all of my practice time) is working.”

Bond, a 1999 Florida State alumnus, who played in the 1999 NCAA Championship Finals, will participate in her 19th NCAA championship (12 as its head coach, four as an assistant coach and three as a player) this week.

“The consistency that we are reaching as a program has been fun to experience,” said Bond. “We are showing we are a team to contend with. It’s a blessing to be a Seminole and have a front row seat.”

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