April 25, 2011
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 11th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol golf team will head to Auburn, Wash., for the NCAA West Regional Tournament from May 5-7, the NCAA announced on Monday.
The Lady Vols captured the No. 5 seed at the 24-team, University of Washington-hosted West Regional and will compete at the Washington National Golf Course.
A field of 72 teams and 18 individuals was selected for the NCAA Tournament, which will consist of three 54-hole preliminary regional competitions and a 72-hole NCAA Championship tournament from May 18-21 at the Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas.
The top eight teams and top two individuals at each regional advance to the NCAA Championship.
"I am excited to take the team to Washington for the NCAA Regional," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "Chessey (Thomas) will be happy to play close to home and it will be a new experience for the rest of the team. The regional committees did a good job making the fields fair, so there is no benefit to one site over the other."
Thomas is a freshman out of Spokane, Wash., who captured back-to-back 4A Washington state girls titles in 2009 and 2010.
This is the 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament selection for the Lady Vols, who have competed at an NCAA Regional every year since the program started in 1992-93.
A top-eight finish at the West Regional will vault the Big Orange to its third consecutive NCAA Championship and seventh appearance in eight years. UT has been to nine total NCAA Championship Finals.
The last time Tennessee competed at the West Regional, in 2005, it tied for first with UCLA at the New Mexico State University Golf Course in Las Cruces, N.M.
Last season the Lady Vols finished second at the NCAA East Regional at the Ironwood Country Club in Greenville, N.C., before placing in a tie for 19th at the NCAA Championships in Wilmington, N.C.
Popson, a sophomore from Davenport, Fla., and Mansson, a junior from Stockholm, Sweden, both earned All-Region honors a year ago with top-10 finishes.
At their last tournament, the SEC Championship, the Lady Vols placed sixth as a team and Popson claimed the individual championship at the Auburn Golf Club form April 15-17.
Popson has finished first at her last three tournaments, claiming the Bryan National Collegiate by one shot from March 25-27, tying with Mansson at the Rebel Intercollegiate from April 1-3 and becoming the second Lady Vol to earn medalist honors at the conference tournament.
Tennessee is joined in the West Regional field by No. 1-seed USC, No.2 Virginia, No. 3 Arizona, No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 7 Iowa State, No. 8 UC Davis, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 11 Oregon, No. 12 South Carolina, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 Tulsa, No. 15 Denver, No. 16 San Diego State, No. 17 Brigham Young, No. 18 New Mexico, No. 19 UTSA, No. 20 Portland, No. 21 New Mexico State, No. 22 San Jose State, No. 23 Oral Roberts and No. 24 UTEP.
Former Lady Vol golfer and assistant coach Carrie Parnaby is in her third-year as the head coach at No. 19-seed UTSA. She led the Roadrunners to their first ever NCAA Regional appearance.