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UNLV confident entering women’s NCAA golf regional

Updated May 4, 2022 - 10:54 am

UNLV’s women’s golf team is 54 holes away from the NCAA Championship.

Those three rounds will be a huge challenge, but coach Amy Bush-Herzer believes the Rebels have a good chance to advance out of their NCAA regional next week at Stanford.

“If we play how we’re capable, we’re right in the mix,” Bush-Herzer said of the 12-team regional, in which four teams advance. “We are right there.”

Win or lose, Bush-Herzer has had one of the best years of her 11-year run leading the Rebels. The team won three tournaments, including the prestigious Dale McNamara Invitational in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in October.

The invitation to the postseason is just the icing on the cake.

“This has been the most fun I’ve had in quite a few years,” Bush-Herzer said. “The players have jelled, they support each other, they laugh with each other. It’s just a great group.”

It’s the first time UNLV has reached the regionals since 2018, meaning it’s a new experience for every player.

That includes everyone from senior Veronica Joels, who is wrapping up a stellar career, to freshmen Kendall Todd and Sydney Bryan, who have carried the team during the spring.

Bush-Herzer is thrilled for Joels, whom she calls a tremendous representative of the school and community.

“To have her go (to the postseason), I’m just over the moon,” Bush-Herzer said.

She also believes exposure to a major event will do wonders for the younger players who will play on a course where holes are roped, credentials are required and more people will be watching.

Bush-Herzer has one goal for next week: Whether it’s first, second, third or fourth doesn’t matter, she said.

“Just advance.”

To do so will take a big effort. The bracket starts with the host Cardinal, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, No. 12 Southern California, No. 14 Louisiana State, No. 21 Texas Tech and No. 22 Kentucky.

Iowa State, Northwestern, Purdue, Cal Poly, Princeton and Sacred Heart round out the bracket.

The fact the Rebels can stay in the Pacific time zone and play a course a few are familiar with is a big bonus, Bush-Herzer said.

She will have her players focus on managing the par 5s at Stanford, a point of emphasis all season for the Rebels.

“We’ve really excelled in par-5 scoring, and Stanford has some really scorable par 5s,” she said.

Should the Rebels survive the regional, the NCAA Championship is May 20-25 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mission in the field

Along with the 72 teams playing in the NCAA women’s regionals, each of the six brackets will include six women playing for the individual title whose schools did not qualify.

At the top of the list for the Stanford regional is Riana Mission, the San Francisco standout freshman and a 2021 graduate of Clark High School.

“We are extremely proud of Riana for being selected as the top individual in the Stanford region,” USF coach Sara Doell said. “This is a well-deserved result of all of the hard work and sacrifice Riana has put in since getting to the Hilltop.”

U.S. Open qualifiers

Three players with Las Vegas ties advanced out of local qualifying for the U.S. Open last week at Casablanca Golf Club in Mesquite.

Max Marsico (64) was medalist, followed by Jackson Parrish (66). Former UNLV player Jack Trent earned one of the final two spots in a four-person playoff among those who shot 67.

Halfway across the country, Oklahoma State sophomore and Arbor View graduate Hazen Newman was medalist at a local qualifier in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Local qualifiers advance to one of 11 final qualifying sites in early June to try to earn a spot in the U.S. Open set for June 16-19 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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