Golden Suns set for national championships

ATU Athletics
Paul Smith, Associate Athletic Director

RUSSELLVILLE – Arkansas Tech will compete in the 2018 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf National Championships this week at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas on May 16-19.

The Golden Suns are scheduled to make their fourth appearance at the championships in five years. In 2017, Arkansas Tech finished first in the regional championships before placing 11th at the national tournament.

This season, the Suns won their fourth consecutive Great American Conference championship, earning the automatic bid to the Division II Central Regional in St. Charles, Mo. Arkansas Tech finished the first of the three-round region tournament in first place but fell to fifth after day two. In the final round, the Golden Suns posted the second-lowest team score of the day, led by Peerada Piddon’s tournament-low 68, to climb to third and advance to the national championships by two strokes.

Arkansas Tech currently ranks 21st in Division II with an average score of 77.93. Individually, Piddon ranks 12th nationally with an average round of 74.26 strokes. Piddon leads the Suns with eight rounds of even-par or better in 12 events this year. At the GAC Championships on April 22-24, Piddon recorded the only two rounds under par among the 43 participants, winning the event by a record nine strokes. At the regional tournament, Piddon tied for second with the fifth-lowest 54-hole tournament score in program history, leading the event with 13 birdies, including six in the final round.

Pia Nunbhakdi follows with an average round of 76.52 this year, 82nd-best in Division II. Nunbhakdi has three top-10 finishes, which includes tying for second at the GAC Championships. In the regional tournament last week, Nunbhakdi tied for 24th with a three-round 229. In 2017, she won the Central Super Regional by three strokes, helping Tech advance to the national championships where she tied for 33rd.

Avery Struck joins Nunbhakdi as the only two Golden Suns from last year’s national championships. Struck finished 52nd at the 2017 national tournament, after finished fourth at the region championships and seventh at the conference tournament. In 2018, Struck has four top-10 finishes, including fifth place at the Central Region Spring Preview in Springfield, Mo. last month.

Holly Standing and Allie Weiner have combined for two top-10 finishes this year. Standing tied for eighth at the GAC Championships while Weiner tied for the 17th, as Tech was the only team to have all five golfers finish in the top 20. At the region championships last week, Weiner opened the tournament with a team-low 73 in the first round. She finished the event tied for 32nd, while Standing posted a career-low three-round score to tie for 24th.

The championships feature 12 teams and 12 individuals from four different regions, totaling 72 participants. The tournament will consist of both team and individual competition conducted concurrently. All participants will compete through the entire 72 holes of competition. In the team competition, the low four scores for each team will count in each day’s total score.

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