The nationally No. 10-ranked Stanford women's golf team put together a string of three straight tournament titles this spring. The Cardinal, however, can top that by winning one more.
Stanford will go after the most important title of the year when it tees off Tuesday in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Women's Golf Championships, which continue through Friday in Athens, Ga.
The Cardinal finished fifth at the NCAA West Regional, hosted at the Stanford Golf Course, to earn a trip to the finals for a 29th time. The program has yet to capture the coveted title, but came close in 2000 when the team took second.
The 24-team field (in order of Golfweek rankings) is No. 1 USC, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Arizona, No. 10 Stanford, No. 11 Florida, No. 12 Washington, No. 13 Arizona State, No. 14 Oklahoma State, No. 15 Tulane, No. 16 Texas, No. 20 Northwestern, No. 23 UC Davis, No. 25 Michigan State, No. 30 Tennessee, No. 33 South Carolina, No. 37 Wake Forest, No. 38 Oregon, and No. 56 Wisconsin.
"It's hard to say what score will put us in contention," said Stanford head coach Anne Walker. "We just want to compete hard over each shot. If we give it our best, we will leave on Friday feeling pretty good about this event."
Walker starts the same spring lineup that captured team titles at the Peg Barnard, Cal Classic and Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational.
Freshman Mariah Stackhouse returns to her home state of Georgia to compete in her first NCAA Championship. She has recorded eight top-10 finishes in 10 events and holds a 71.8 stroke average in 28 rounds of competition. The First Team All-Pac-12 selection, Stackhouse broke a collegiate and course record at the Peg Barnard with a 61 (-10) round where she captured the title and went 12-under-par overall. Less than a month later, she took home the Juli Inkster title.
Like Stackhouse, this marks freshman Lauren Kim's first appearance at the finals. Kim, a second team All-Pac-12 selection, has had two top-10 finishes on the season, including a tie for fifth at the Peg Barnard.
Postseason competition veteran Sally Watson returns to the finals for the fourth consecutive year.
The Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Watson won the Sonoma State Invitational for her third collegiate title and came in second at the Edean Ihlanfeldt.
Watson's best finish at the NCAA Championships was during her freshman year in 2010 where she tied for ninth at 286 (-2) after going as low as 66 in the final round.
Mariko Tumangan, who led the Cardinal with a tie for 10th at the NCAA West Regional, takes the fourth spot on the lineup. The sophomore recorded her best career round at the Cal Classic where she shot a 4-under 68 and tied for second for her collegiate-best finish.
At last year's finals, Tumangan tied for 38th with a 9-over 297.
Rounding out the lineup is junior Danielle Frasier, who makes her first postseason appearance. Frasier posted her career-best finish at the Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational, where she tied for ninth at 222, her best 54-hole score.
"Everyone is excited to be here at the finals," Walker said. "This is what we work hard for all year and it can never be taken for granted. We feel confident that we didn't leave anything on the table this year. The team has worked hard and challenged themselves to grow as players. They have arrived in Georgia with their games ready to go."
The tournament will be held on the par-72, 6,372-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.
"The course is great and perfectly set up by the officials," Walker continued. "The greens are going to be where the tournament is won or lost. There are a lot of slopes, tiers and drop-offs that will affect your ball."