BATON ROUGE, La.- No. 13-ranked Texas A&M finished 13th on Saturday at the NCAA Women's Golf East Regional, falling short in its bid for a fourth straight berth in the NCAA finals.
The top eight teams advance to the NCAA Championships May 22-25 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Big 12 champion Aggies ended their season with an 11-over-par 299 on Saturday for an 878 total, eight strokes out of eighth place. The tournament marked the end of the college careers of seniors Ashley Knoll and Christa Spedding, as well head coach Jeanne Sutherland, who is retiring after 15 seasons.
"It's a sad day for us today," Sutherland said. "We just didn't have it today. We couldn't get a birdie to fall and on this course, you had to make birdies to get it done. But I'm so proud of this team and all the great things they accomplished this season."
Top-ranked Duke closed with a 16-under 272 to capture the title with a 20-under total (844). Others advancing to nationals were No. 6 UCLA (846), No. 20 Wake Forest (858), No. 7 Auburn (861), No. 12 Purdue (862), No. 19 North Carolina (862), No. 24 Alabama (868) and Louisville (870).
Not advancing were No. 25 South Carolina (874), No. 21 Virginia (874), Furman (875), Florida State (875), A&M (878), LSU (881), Birmingham-Southern (890), College of Charleston (891), South Florida (894), North Carolina State (899), Western Carolina (906), Jacksonville State (936) and Jackson State (979).
UCLA's Sydnee Michaels won individual honors by three strokes with a 13-under total of 66-68-69=203.
Knoll tied for 13th at two-under (71-70-73=214), while freshman Danielle McVeigh tied for 26th (69-71-77=217), sophomore Lauren Johnson tied for 62nd (78-73-73=224), freshman Ashley Freeman tied for 70th (73-74-79=226) and Spedding tied for 81st (78-74-76=228).
Knoll, a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, is a strong candidate to repeat as a first-team All-American. Her career scoring average of 74.46 is easily the best in school history and her 73.03 average this season is second only to her record of 72.76 set last season.
Spedding played in 138 career rounds, tying the school record set by Kristina Edfors (1992-96). Her 76.32 career stroke average is the third best in school history. McVeigh, the Big 12 co-newcomer of the year, finished the season with a 75.17 stroke average, shattering the A&M freshman record of 75.94 set by Nicole Melton in 2001-02.
Sutherland ended her career at A&M with consecutive Big 12 Championships and conference coach of the year honors. She led A&M to postseason play in 13 of her 15 years as head coach. She will become the head golf professional at Vail (Colo.) Golf Club next month.