Mississippi State golfer Ally McDonald will compete in the 2014 U.S. Women's Open after advancing through sectional qualifying this week.
May 31, 2014 7:59:37 AM
STARKVILLE-- Ally McDonald continues to show why she's considered one of the best amateur golfers in the world.
One the same day she was named an All-American selection by the Women's Golf Coaches Association, the Mississippi State junior qualified for the United States Women's Open in Sanford, N.C.
McDonald, the 11th-rated golfer in the world and second in the United States, shot consecutive rounds of 72 to finish the two-round event at Carolina Trace Country Club with a even-par 144.
"It's a blessing and honor to be able to play in one of the most prestigious tournaments in women's golf," an excited McDonald said. "I have a lot of work to do before the Open, but I cannot wait to be out there with the best of the best."
McDonald's score tied Australia's Rebecca Artis, but the Fulton, Miss., native birdied the opening playoff hole to secure the top amateur finish and punch her card to the prestigious championship which will be played June 19-22 at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C.
"Ally is working hard and it shows," MSU head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "She had her sights set on playing on the Curtis Cup team and qualifying for US Open at Pinehurst. Her last goal is to defend her North South Amateur title at Pinehurst in July. Her commitment to her routine will enable her to handle all that comes with the next level of play in these venues. It's the same game, same routine and same belief. We work on that constantly."
Australia's Stacey Keating took the top spot with a 140. Marta Silva of Spain followed with a 141, while Weiling Hsu of Chinese Taipei finished one shot ahead of McDonald.
Following the record-setting 2014 campaign on his college schedule, McDonald was selected first-team All-American for the second-straight year Thursday.
McDonald becomes just the second MSU player ever to claim multiple first-team honors and first to do so in back-to-back seasons since Carri Wood did so in the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
"Recognizing Ally [McDonald] in this way further reinforces that she is the total package student-athlete," Brown-Lemm said. "She represents the Mississippi State women's golf program, our university and the game of golf with the highest of standards and commitment."
With the lowest single-season stroke average (71.48) and most birdies in a season (114) in school history, McDonald guided MSU to a sixth-place finish in its second-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. McDonald captured six top-5 and 10 top-25 scorecards on the year, including the tournament championship in the Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational back in the fall.
McDonald teed off the year in record-setting pace by setting the lowest 18-hole score in program history with a 6-under-par 66 in the first round of the season. McDonald capped off the season with a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Central Regional and placing tied for fourth in the national championship.
The All-American will return for her senior season boasting the best career stroke average (72.68), most rounds in the 60's (17), par or better rounds (51) and birdies (296) in program history.
McDonald was one of three Southeastern Conference golfers to be named first-team, alongside Stephanie Meadow of Alabama and Gaby Lopez of Arkansas. Simin Feng of Vanderbilt, Samantha Swinehart of South Carolina and Marijosse Navarro of Texas A&M notched second-team honors, while Justine Dreher of South Carolina and Emma Talley of Alabama were honorable mention.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. Good times roll for Market Street music ENTERTAINMENT
5. W music students present An Evening of Classics ENTERTAINMENT