In this file photo, UTC's Emma de Groot practices putting at the UTC practice facility on Hickory Valley Road.Staff File Photo
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior golfer Emma de Groot isn’t thinking about advancing.
She’s thinking about winning.
The UTC women’s golf team will participate in the NCAA Central Regional tournament beginning Thursday at the University of Notre Dame.
If the Mocs finish in the top eight of the three-day tournament at Warren Golf Course, they’ll advance to the NCAA championship tournament.
“You don’t look at it as if we want to make the top eight. We look at it as we want to win,” said de Groot, the Southern Conference golfer of the year and medalist in the conference tournament.
“You don’t look at it as what’s the least we have to do to get through. You look at it as ‘What is our ultimate goal?’ Hopefully we can achieve that and make the next level.”
UTC is the 12th-ranked team out of the 24 at South Bend. At some point over the last three years, coach Colette Murray’s Mocs have beat every team in the field except No. 2 UCLA.
“We need to approach this like we do every other tournament, and that’s to win,” Murray said. “If they all play as well as they can, then there’s no reason we can’t win.
“Three years ago we’d be knocking knees, but we’ve played with these teams and we know we can compete with these teams.”
The Mocs are playing in their third straight regional tournament. They reached the finals in 2009 but missed the championship last year when only four players were able to participate.
“We’ve been through this before, and we have experience,” de Groot said. “Hopefully we can use that experience to get the other girls through.”
She and Christine Wolf, two of the program’s first players, are in their final postseason — but they hope not their last event.
“It’s been on my mind the entire semester, and every tournament it gets closer and closer to being the end,” de Groot said. “I have to go play my heart out and hope it’s not my last tournament.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...