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State of the Program - Women’s Golf

A strong finish at NCAAs reminds us that women’s golf has quickly become one of the best programs at UVA

LPGA: Augusta National Women’s Amateur - Final Round Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Women’s golf is one of the youngest sports among Virginia’s offerings, but with just 16 years of existence, it’s sneakily one of the strongest programs Virginia has. Boasting two ACC championships and multiple top-15 finishes at the NCAA Tournament, women’s golf has sprung onto the radar as a power in the ACC.

In June of 2018, one big wrinkle had the potential for stifling the program’s momentum: 11-year head coach and three-time ACC Coach of the Year Kim Lewellen left UVA for Wake Forest in large part to be closer to her family. For those who were paying attention, it’s not lost on UVA Fans that she left a strong Virginia program and led the Demon Deacons to a second place finish at this year’s NCAAs, a feat she never accomplished at UVA.

But that’s not the end of the Virginia Women’s Golf story. Enter new coach Ria Scott who, in her first year, led this year’s Cavaliers to a 14th place finish in NCAAs, their best since 2016.

Women’s Golf Five Year Results

Year Record ACC Rank Postseason Result
Year Record ACC Rank Postseason Result
2018-2019 6th Place Avg Finish 4th ACCT 14th NCAA Tournament
2017-2018 8th Place Avg Finish 4th ACCT 22nd NCAA Tournament
2016-2017 11th Place Avg Finish 8th ACCT None
2015-2016 5th Place Avg Finish ACC CHAMPS!!! 5th NCAA Tournament
2014-2015 5th Place Avg Finish ACC CHAMPS!!! 20th NCAA Tournament

2019 Recap

2019 Stars: Anna Redding, Beth Lillie, Katharine Patrick

After losing a coach, it would have been understandable for this year’s Wahoos to take a step back. However, this squad, led by senior Anna Redding, had nothing of it, finishing fourth in the ACC and 14th in the NCAA tournament. That bested the team’s 8th place ACC finish two years ago and 20th place NCAA Tournament finish last year.

Redding paced the team with a 72.85 stroke average on her way to All-American and All-State team honors. Fellow senior Katherine Patrick was only a stroke and a half behind, but posted UVA’s second lowest single round score of the year with her -4 effort at the Tar Heel Invitational in the fall swing.

After finishing fourth with a solid effort at the ACC championships, the Cavaliers were a surprise in the NCAA Tournament. They came in fourth at the Auburn regional, and despite being the high teens in NCAA rank, came in 14th at the NCAA Tournament.

While college golf is a team sport, it’s also a collection of individuals playing an individual game. And in 2019, Virginia’s Redding had an individual experience—dare I say—“unlike any other.” The senior played in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur finishing tied for 26th. Redding was able to make the cut in a playoff in the event played a week before the Masters and was able to escape Amen Corner in even par despite shooting a 4-over 76 on the iconic course.

2020 Outlook

Key Returners: Beth Lillie, Riley Smyth, Julia Ford

While Redding grabbed all the headlines, Virginia returns a solid core that should keep them among the tops of the ACC going forward. Beth Lillie returns after being the only Cavalier to join Redding on the All-ACC team. The rising junior played as the team’s #2 all season long, posting a 73.26 stroke average and three of the five best scores relative to par for all Cavaliers on the year. Riley Smyth played as the team’s fifth member at the end of the season and was huge in Virginia’s fourth place finish at the Auburn Regional with her 2-under 70 in the second round of the tournament.

Also returning will be Julia Ford. The rising senior didn’t play as often in 2018-2019 after playing in every single tournament of her first and second years, but she did improve her performance lowering her previous best scoring average from 76.67 (in her first year) to 76.00 this season.

Just like the softball team, Virginia golf has a new facility on its way. After the Dean Family Golf Performance Center, a world-class indoor golf practice, training, and locker room facility, opened in 2018, the Cavaliers await the re-opening of Birdwood Golf Course. Virginia’s home course is undergoing a redesign that will see many new holes and many rerouted holes and is being overseen by Davis Love III. The course isn’t set to open until the spring of 2020, but it will be another gem to look forward to and of course a nice recruiting chip for Coach Scott and the Cavalier women.