Women's Golf Seeks 11th Consecutive WCC Title Next Week
April 13, 2012
EVENT INFO -- For the second straight year, the tournament will be held at the par-72, 6,116-yard San Juan Oaks Golf Club in Hollister, Calif. The format has changed from previous years, with a third day added so that 18 holes will be played each day between Monday and Wednesday (April 16-18). Live scoring will be provided at www.golfstat.com.
FIELD -- In addition to Pepperdine, the six-team field consists of BYU, Gonzaga, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Seattle. Seattle is an affiliate member that gives the conference a total of six teams, enough to give the league an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships.
RANKINGS -- As a team, the Waves are ranked #17 in the Golf World/NGCA poll, #20 by Golfstat and #20 by Golfweek/Sagarin. Individually, Grace Na is #19 by Golfstat and #24 by Golfweek/Sagarin, and Alina Ching is #65 by Golfstat and #69 by Golfweek/Sagarin.
PEPPERDINE LINEUP -- For the sixth straight tournament, the lineup for the Waves consists of senior Kaitlin Drolson (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Torrey Pines HS), sophomores Liv Cheng (Auckland, New Zealand/Macleans College) and Grace Na (Alameda, Calif./Alameda HS) and freshmen Alina Ching (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) and Somin Lee (Denver, Colo./Overland HS).
WCC HISTORY -- In addition to winning 10 straight WCC titles and 13 of the last 15, a member of Pepperdine's team has also won individual medalist honors each of the last 10 years and 13 of the last 15 (including Grace Na in 2011). In the team competition, the Waves' average margin of victory over the last 10 years has been 27.5 strokes. Three Waves in the lineup have previous WCC Championships experience: Liv Cheng (T-8th in 2011), Kaitlin Drolson (T-2nd in 2009, 5th in 2010 and 3rd in 2011) and Na (1st in 2011). The Waves have had all five players in their lineup make the All-WCC first team in each of the last three years (and six times overall).
2011-12 STATISTICS -- Grace Na leads the team with a 73.35 scoring average through 20 rounds. Her average is on pace to be the eighth-best mark in school single-season history. She has five top 10s and has placed in the top 20 at six of seven events. Alina Ching has come on with team-best finishes of second, second and fifth at three of the last four tournaments. That has improved her stroke average to 74.75 over 20 rounds. The rest of the team: Cheng (75.96, 23 rounds), Drolson (76.35, 23) and Lee (77.48, 23).
NA -- Grace Na, a preseason Golfweek All-American third teamer, is having a great sophomore year. She won the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown (where she tied an NCAA record with a 9-under 63 in the first round) and also had a tie for second place at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, a tie for fourth place at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational and fifth place at the Bruin Wave Invitational. This follows a tremendous 2010-11 school year. She won the CIF state championship in late 2010 for Alameda High School, then graduated early in order to enroll at Pepperdine in January 2011. During the spring season, Na was the medalist at the WCC Championships and was named both WCC Player and Freshman of the Year as well as a Golfweek All-American honorable mention selection. She needs to play nine more rounds to qualify for Pepperdine's career average chart, but her current average of 73.59 would rank third. Twelve of her 14 career starts have resulted in a top-20 finish.
BRUIN WAVE INVITATIONAL -- The Waves won the third annual Bruin Wave Invitational, held March 5-6 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. It was Pepperdine's first team title of the season. The Waves held off top-ranked UCLA by two strokes. Four Waves finished in the top 12, led by Alina Ching (2nd) and Grace Na (T-3rd).
2011-12 HONORS -- Grace Na was named WCC Player of the Month for October ... Alina Ching was named WCC Player of the Month for February and March ... Pepperdine was named Golfweek's Team of the Week following the Bruin Wave Invitational victory ... All four returners (Na, Kaitlin Drolson, Liv Cheng and Danielle Gillaspy) were named to the preseason All-WCC team (freshmen were not eligible) ... The Waves were picked to win their 11th straight WCC title in the preseason coaches' poll.
ROSTER -- The Waves have a very young team in 2011-12. Only senior Kaitlin Drolson, a three-time All-WCC first teamer, began the season with more than one full year of college golf. The remainder of the roster is filled out by three sophomores and two freshmen. But, the last time the Waves had a comparable level of collegiate experience, they finished ninth at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
PEPPERDINE GOLF HISTORY -- Under the direction of Laurie Gibbs, who is now in her 19th season as head coach, the last decade-plus has established Pepperdine as one of the nation's top golf programs. The Waves have appeared in the NCAA Championships 10 times in 13 years, with eight top 10 finishes and four top five showings, including a program-best second-place result in 2003. The Waves have won West Coast Conference championships in 13 of the last 14 years, including a current streak of 10 titles that began in 2002. Eleven different players have earned All-American honors a total of 22 times. LPGA Tour players have included Katherine Hull, Lindsey Wright, Tamie Durdin, Nadina (Taylor) Light, Misun Cho and Carolina Llano. Danielle Kang won back-to-back U.S. Amateur Championships in 2010 and 2011. Gibbs has been honored 10 times as the WCC's Coach of the Year, was tabbed the West Region Coach of the Year on two occasions and was selected the 2004-05 National Coach of the Year by Golfweek magazine.
ONLINE -- Follow the Pepperdine golf team on Twitter at @wavesgolf or on Facebook at Pepperdine Women's Golf.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY -- Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I championships in five different men's sports - one of just 16 schools to have accomplished this feat - and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest enrollment and is the only school not in a major conference. Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation's most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks #55 overall on U.S. News and World Report's list of America's best colleges. The 2011-12 school year marks Pepperdine's 75th anniversary.