Ashland University senior Ali Green is on the best stretch of her life on the golf course.
If that stretch continues at the 2016 NCAA Division II Championships on Wednesday-Saturday (May 18-21) at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora, Colo., Green has a chance to make even more Eagle history.
Green will make her third nationals appearance, and her first as an individual. Thanks to her efforts in the last two tournaments – winning both the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship and the East Super Regional, and averaging a round of 71.3 in the process – the goals are pretty high.
"Both tournaments were amazing experiences for me," said Green, who set a new school record with a 67 on the third and final day of the conference tournament. "GLIACs was a lot more emotional for me, because I honestly did not believe that I had a chance to win the tournament, and then to come out and shoot my record low and then win in a playoff was an awesome feeling.
"Super regionals was pretty emotional, as well, because going into it I knew that it could potentially be my last college tournament, but after the first two rounds I calmed down and began to really enjoy what was happening."
Said Ashland head coach Kory Oslie, "It's unbelievable. It's fun to watch her play. Everything is clicking for her. It's fun to watch. She just kind of found her way and started seeing some progress. It just kind of snowballed the other way, where the confidence started to go way up, and she's playing really, really good golf right now."
Green, also a Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-East Region and College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District At-Large selection this spring, has finished in a tie for 36th (77-82-79-77—315) as a junior and a tie for 63rd (86-79-86-83—334) as a freshman on Division II golf's biggest stage.
Her play lately, however, allows Green to think bigger – maybe.
"I have tried to keep the same mindset that I have before every tournament," Green said, "but I will say I have been more focused and driven to better my game and fine-tune anything that I can before I leave."
In the 16 seasons of the AU women's golf program, its best individual nationals finish came courtesy of Erin Misheff in 2011, both in terms of final score (296) and placement (tied for sixth). Those marks are two that Green can shoot for – as well as, of course, a national title.
Oslie said, "If she continues what she's doing, absolutely, she's going to put herself in a position where she has an opportunity to win a national championship."
"To be honest, if you asked me this question three weeks ago, I would have said absolutely not," said Green of that possibility. "Now, however, I will admit it has crossed my mind a time or two. It has definitely been a dream of mine to become a national champion, and I am very pleased with the way my game is shaping up going into nationals.
"This (stretch) has been probably the highlight of my college career here at Ashland. I have had some really good times, but this is a dream come true. Nationals is always a goal of mine and making it was an accomplishment, but then to go on and win GLIACs and regionals makes it even better. I could not ask for a better way to end my senior year."