PETALING JAYA: It will be a proud moment for Malaysia when four golfers begin the battle in the season-ending National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Golf Championships in the United States, starting with the women’s tournament today.
The NCAA is the biggest meet in the US collegiate golf calendar, featuring a selected field of 156 men and 132 women fighting for team and individual honours.
Alyaa Abdulghany (University of Southern California) and Ashley Lau (Univesity of Michigan) will be the first two to go into action in the six-day meet at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The men’s championship will take place at the same venue from May 28-June 2, where Ervin Chang will play for Liberty University while V. Khavish Varman will don the University of Alabama colours.
Of the four Malaysians, only Alyaa and Ervin will be making their successive appearances having previously participated in the 2019 edition.
Last year’s competition was called off due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
All eyes will be on Alyaa and Ashley to see whether they can outperform compatriot Natasha Andrea Oon’s creditable ninth placing two years ago.
Natasha, who’s with the San Jose State University, has missed out the entire season due to a long-term injury.
Alyaa and Ashley had earlier contributed to their respective schools’ successful bids in booking tickets to the 24-team finale by virtue of being the top six sides during the regional championships two weeks ago.
Alyaa tied for 18th individually to help the five-member University Southern California finish sixth at the Stanford Regional, while Ashley was joint 24th for University of Michigan in their joint fifth finish at the Columbus Regional.
The NCAA championships will be decided in a combination of stroke and match play.
The 24 teams will compete in a 72-hole stroke play, the top 15 advancing to a final round (May 24), where the individual winner will be determined as well.
The top eight teams after 72 holes will be seeded into a match-play format.
Many individual winners have gone on to have successful careers on the LPGA Tour, including 1991 champion Annika Sorenstam and 1999 champion Grace Park.