DePauw University golf goes to NCAA Championship


For the thirteenth year in a row, the Tigers women's golf team is headed to the NCAA Division III Championship.

The Tigers earned their bid over the weekend when they won the North Coast Athletic Conference Women's Golf Championship. DePauw shot a 638, which put them in first place over Wittenberg University and Allegheny College, who came in second and third place, respectively. 

The 13 consecutive NCAA appearances have all come under head coach Vince Lazar, who is in his 16th season as coach of both the men's and women's teams. 

"The 13 year stretch says that the program is very strong and will continue to be strong," said senior Kelsey Smith. "DePauw will continue to bring in strong players and develop them."

This season's NCAC Championship was held over two weeks, with DePauw hosting the first weekend and Wabash College hosting the second weekend of play. 

This weekend's results combined with last week's first and second rounds of the NCAC Championship events. DePauw finished first in the previous rounds as well.

In first and second round action, the course required long putts from the participants. In rounds three and four, they played a shorter course that demanded more accuracy on the green. 

All rounds combined, DePauw finished with a four-round 1279, with senior golfer Paige Gooch scoring a 305 in all rounds.

"Its been a goal of mine to win conference, and most importantly, for the team to get there," said Gooch. "After a great first weekend, I knew if I kept doing what I was doing, I'd be in a good position. I knew pars win tournaments, and not to do anything risky."

For the second year in a row, Gooch was awarded Conference Player of the Year.

"To be named Player of the Year, it's remarkable," said Gooch. "It's humbling to be in this position."

Gooch is finishing her DePauw career with two consecutive Conference Player of the Year awards.

In addition, Gooch won NCAC Player of the Year last year and was an All-NCAC First Team Selection for two consecutive seasons. In her freshman year, Gooch had one of the most successful inaugural seasons in Tiger history. Gooch was named SCAC Player of the Year, All-SCAC First Team Selection and received an All-SCAC Academic Honor Roll award.

Four years later, and now as a captain of her Tigers program, Gooch will find herself on the same Florida golf course, Mission Inn Resort, competing for an NCAA championship. 

"The course is fun, but it can be tricky," said Gooch. "The biggest thing is getting our t-shots into play and continuing work on our putting. We've been staying patient, and I think thats really going to play in our favor." 

Smith, who also entered the program in 2010, earned an All-NCAC First Team selection this season and finished the NCAC nament in fourth place with a score of 319. 

For Gooch and Smith, the only two seniors on the team, they have almost reached the fairytale ending of their DePauw golf careers. 

 "The perfect end would be winning the team championship," said Smith, "and enjoying my last four rounds of collegiate golf."