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No. 19 Auburn women’s golf set for NCAA Championships

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AUBURN, Ala. – A chance at a national title awaits the No. 19 Auburn women’s golf team this weekend as the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships begin Friday in Stillwater, Okla.

The Tigers are among 24 teams competing in the championships at Karsten Creek Golf Club, hosted by Oklahoma State. Play gets underway Friday morning with the Tigers set to tee off at 7:30 a.m. CT.

For third-year Auburn head coach Melissa Luellen, it’s a homecoming of sorts – she is a native of Tulsa and is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her own triumph at the NCAA Championships. She was the individual medalist in 1988 and led the University of Tulsa to the team title as well.

"Selfishly, I really, really wanted to make this national championship," Luellen said. "I want to make it every year, but this one is going to be special. It will be a special thing that my mom and my sister will be able to come to Stillwater and watch the tournament."

With the national title on the line, the nation's best are ready to descend on the Karsten Creek layout that previously hosted the men's NCAA Championships in 2003 and 2011 - a course that Luellen described as a "beast."

"It's designed to be tough, it's designed to host championships," she said. "Staying below the hole will be a real premium. We'll just have to play smart."

After leading the Tigers with top-20 finishes at both the SEC Championship and the NCAA Regional, freshman Kaleigh Telfer will again be in the top spot in the Tigers' lineup. Four of her last five rounds have been at even par or better, and she finished under par for the first time at the regional to tie for 16th place.

"She has played consistently, played with confidence," Luellen said. "She's grown up a lot. It proves that our future is bright when you have a freshman leading the way."

Sophomore Elena Hualde will play in the No. 2 spot, followed by seniors Kelli Murphy and Michaela Owen, along with Marschke.

For Murphy and Owen, a trip to the national championship for their final collegiate tournament has been a long time coming.

"This is everything we've always wanted in college," Owen said. "This is what I wanted to go to college for, and it's a great way to end my senior year. But we're not thinking about the outcome or what could happen, we're just taking it one day at a time."

All 24 teams will play three rounds of stroke play Friday-Sunday. After Sunday’s round, the field is cut to 15 teams and the top remaining individuals for the final round of stroke play. The field is then cut again to the top eight teams for match play, which begins Tuesday. Monday’s final round and matches on Tuesday and Wednesday will be televised live by Golf Channel.

The Tigers will hit the first shot of the tournament on the No. 1 tee, paired with Florida State and Oklahoma for the first two rounds. Live scoring is available at golfstat.com, and fans can follow @AuburnWGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook throughout the week for updates.

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