Georgia women, Bae place first in regional, head to NCAAs

Georgia qualified for the national championship after winning the Athens regional of the 2023 NCAA Division I women’s golf championships at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

For the second time in three years, Georgia and Jenny Bae swept the team and individual championships at an NCAA Golf Regional on Wednesday. The Bulldogs and Bae completed their wire-to-wire wins at the Athens Regional in impressive fashion at the University of Georgia Golf Course.

“We wanted to win,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We haven’t won all year. We felt truthfully that we were the best team on our home golf course. It’s nice for that to happen. But just like this week, everyone starts at zero in nine, 10 days in Arizona.”

The team and individual Regional sweep is Georgia’s third in the last eight seasons under Brewer dating back to 2016. The Bulldogs also took home both titles at the 2016 Bryan Regional and the 2021 Columbus Regional, with Bae also winning there. Georgia and Stanford are the only two teams in the country with three Regional sweeps during that span.

Georgia closed with a 290 on Wednesday to wrap up play at 13-under 851, two shots clear of runner-up South Carolina. That represented the Bulldogs’ best-ever postseason score ever and the fifth-best tournament tally in program history.

Bae led the Bulldogs with her second straight 5-under 67 and finished at 13-under 203 and with an six-stroke gap over the field. Bae now owns the two best tourney scores in school history. This week’s effort trails only her 16-under mark to win the Illini Invitational last fall.

Jenny Bae
Georgia golfer Jenny Bae during the Athens regional of the 2023 NCAA Division I women’s golf championships at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga., on Monday, May 8, 2023. (Conor Dillon/UGAAA)

On Wednesday, Georgia also counted a 1-under 71 from Jo Hua Hung and a pair of 76s from Isabella Holpfer and Candice Mahé.

All five Bulldogs ended up among the top-25 individuals, with Hung finishing fourth at 5-under 211, Holpfer tying for 14th at 219, LoraLie Cowart tying for 20th at 221 and Mahé tying for 24th at 222.

Georgia led by double digits by most of the final round until the Gamecocks closed within two shots with two pairings left on the course. A birdie by Hung offset a South Carolina birdie and a subsequent birdie by Bae increased the final margin to two shots.

“Our coaches did a really nice job of just staying chill the entire time, so I didn’t know it was getting close,” Hung said. “I just wanted to finish strong. When I played the last two holes I knew it was par-5s, and I needed to finish strong.”

Bae’s victory carried historical significance from both single-season and career perspectives. The super senior from Suwanee, Ga., became the program’s first-ever two-time Regional medalist. Bae also notched her school-record 23rd par-or-better score in 33 rounds this season, breaking the previous record set by Marta Silva Zamora in 2010-11 and Bailey Tardy in 2015-16.

“Wow, I mean it’s something that I would hope to achieve,” Bae said. “Hearing it honestly doesn’t sink in right now. It probably will in a few hours. I’m definitely proud of myself for how far I’ve come since freshman year, and I’m also super proud of this team for pulling us through, winning Regionals and being able to head into nationals with high hopes and high confidence.”

Georgia is advancing to the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive year, the first time the Bulldogs have done so since 2007-09. Georgia will be among 30 teams and six individuals competing at the national championships on May 19-24 at Grayhawk Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz. 

All 156 competitors will play three rounds for stroke play on May 19-21. The field then will be cut to 15 teams and the top nine individuals not on advancing teams will play a fourth round of stroke play on May 22. Following the fourth round, the individual national champion will be determined and the top eight teams will go on to compete in a match play bracket on May 23-24 to crown the NCAA’s team champion.

Georgia’s sports a rich history in women’s golf. The Bulldogs have captured four national champions, winning the team title in 2001 and producing individual winners in 1980 (Terri Moody), 1984 (Cindy Schreyer) and 1992 (Vicki Goetze). All told, Georgia teams have recorded 21 top-10 and 28 top-20 finishes at the last 44 national championships since 1979.

A year ago, Bae and Mahé tied for sixth individually to lead Georgia to an eighth play showing in stroke play. The Bulldogs reached match play for the first time since the NCAA adopted the current format in 2015. Georgia dropped a 3-2 decision to Stanford, the eventual national champions, in the quarterfinals.

“We’ve got to go out there with the same confidence, but we also know we can play well because we did it last year,” Brewer said. “We’re excited to be back and just see if we can have an extra day of golf.”

About the Author

Hello and Welcome to The Georgia Golfer I'm Stan Awtrey, the writer and administrator for this site. I love to watch and play, although my 19 handicap index would indicate that I'm better at watching. I've played more than 200 different courses over the years, including Augusta National (twice).