NORMAN, Okla. - University of Oklahoma golfer Ellen Mueller shot an even-par 71 Saturday at the NCAA West Regional at the Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif., to secure a spot in the NCAA Women's Golf Championships.
Mueller, representing OU individually, totaled a score of 219 (+6) in the 54-hole tournament to finish in a three-way tie for seventh place out of 122 competitors. It was her seventh top-10 finish of the season.
"To play in Regionals as an individual and advance is pretty special," said OU head coach Veronique Drouin. "Ellen played solid all week. She gave herself good birdie opportunities today. She was very consistent and deserves to be playing in the national championship."
Mueller began the regional tournament Thursday with two straight bogeys, which led to a first-round score of 76 (+5) and a tie for 47th place.
After the disappointing start, she found herself having to fight back for the remainder of the tournament.
"After my first round, I knew I needed to make more putts in order to have a chance," said Mueller Saturday afternoon. "As the week went on the greens got faster, making putting more difficult. My goal for the last two rounds was to stay patient and let things happen."
In Friday's round, Mueller shot an impressive 72 (+1), moving up to a tie for 17th place going into the final day of play.
Mueller's Saturday round started strong on the back nine, where she recorded par on all nine holes. Her score of 36 (E) marked her best opening nine of the tournament. She scored a 40 (+4) on Thursday morning and a 39 (+3) Friday afternoon.
After making the turn, Mueller birdied the par-5 first hole before bogeying hole No. 2. The junior collected par on the next three holes and a bogey on hole No. 6. She immediately fought back with a birdie on No. 7 and finished the round with pars on holes 8 and 9.
Mueller's 71 tied as her second lowest career round.
Mueller, who was recently named to the 2009-10 All-Big 12 Team, holds a 74.34 season stroke average, a program best. This will mark her first appearance in the NCAA Championships.
Calle Nielson of Virginia and Madeleine Ziegert of San Jose State tied for the first place medal, each shooting +1 in the tournament.
Arizona took home the team title, finishing at +24 after three rounds. The Wildcats will be joined in the NCAA Championships by fellow West Regional participants UCLA, Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Stanford, San Jose State and Texas A&M.
In order to have advanced to the NCAA Championships, Mueller had to finish among the top two individuals among 16 non-advancing teams and the other two individual regional qualifiers.
Mueller, who finished second among golfers who hadn't already qualified through their team's finishing, advances with LSU's Megan McChrystal, who finished at +5.
The NCAA Championships will be held May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C., and be hosted by the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. This marks the second straight year a Sooner has advanced to nationals as an individual (Kendall Dye finished in 52nd place last year in Owings Mills, Md.).
Coverage of Mueller's preparation for the NCAA Championships will be available at SoonerSports.com and on the OU women's golf program's new Twitter page, twitter.com/OU_WomensGolf.