NGCA AWARDS: Morrison Runner-Up for National POY; Morrison, McGrew All-Region
NEWBERG, Ore. – Not only has Kelsey Morrison become the first George Fox University women's golfer to receive NCAA Division III First Team All-America honors as awarded by the National Golf Coaches Association, the Bruins' talented junior was also runner-up for 2011-12 National Player of the Year - literally by a margin of two strokes!
Morrison was recognized as a First Team All-American during an awards ceremony by the NGCA at last week's D-III National Championship Tournament in Angola, Ind. She and teammate Megan McGrew were also named to the D-III All-West Region First Team at the same time.
The announcement of the National Player of the Year, however, which is usually revealed at the awards ceremony, was delayed due to the closeness of the competition between Morrison and Olivia Lugar of Washington University-St. Louis, the eventual winner.
According to Scott Moe, head coach at Gustavus Adolphus College and a director on the NGCA board who represents Division III, "Kelsey and Olivia were far ahead of everyone else in the country, but they were too close to call on regular season stats; their stroke averages were virtually the same, they both had some great wins, and they were 1-1 in head-to-head competition (Lugar trumped Morrison in the O'Brien National Invitational at the University of Notre Dame in the fall, while Morrison bested Lugar in GFU's Phoenix Invitational in March). So the committee decided to use the NCAA Tourney as the tiebreaker, and the winner would be Player of the Year."
Though Morrison's Bruins finished ahead of Lugar's Bears (George Fox was seventh, Wash U ended up 13th in the nationals), Lugar shot a four-day score of 309 to tie for ninth on the individual leaderboard, while Morrison wound up tied for 14th with a 311. By that slim margin, therefore, the Player of the Year award went to the Bears' freshman sensation instead of the Bruins' equally-impressive star.
"Kelsey was oh-so-close!" noted George Fox coach MaryJo McCloskey. "Neither player really knew what was going on, although I'm sure they had some idea that there was a lot on the line when the Player of the Year wasn't announced at the awards ceremony as it usually is, but they were just that close. Still, it was a great record-breaking year for Kelsey, and we are very proud of our first First Team All-American."
Morrison, a native of Yucca Valley, Calif., was a Second Team All-American last year, joining Brianna Nap, who was the Bruins' first All-American in 2010 as a Second Team honoree. She was also named to the All-West Region First Team for the second year in a row, and was an All-Northwest Conference First Team selection for the third time while earning the NWC Player of the Year award.
During the year, Morrison led the Bruins with a 75.9 stroke average and a remarkable 484-28-2 record against individual opponents, a .944 winning percentage. She placed in the top ten in 11 of the Bruins' 12 tournaments this year, in the top five 10 times, and won four (the Lutes Invitational, the Phoenix Invitational, the NWC Spring Classic, and the Willamette Invitational, all in a row in the spring). She posted four consecutive sub-par rounds in the Phoenix Invitational and the NWC Spring Classic with a 67, 69, 71 and 71, establishing George Fox records for lowest round (67) and lowest 36-hole score (136) in the Phoenix event. Her 67 was the single lowest round in all of Division III this year.
In the latest NCAA national statistics (released prior to the NWC Tournament), Morrison ranked first in the West Region in scoring average (75.58) and score vs. par (3.37), and was second nationally to Lugar's scoring average of 74.94 and score vs. par of 3.17. She was a four-time recipient of the Bruin Athletic Association Women's Athlete of the Week award, and was named the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week six times during the year.
McGrew, a freshman from Yolo, Calif., tied for 42nd in the NCAA National Tournament with a four-day score of 321. She was second on the team with an 80.2 scoring average and a record of 366-145-3 (.715) vs. individual opponents. She had six top 10 finishes, five top five finishes, and won medalist honors in the Pacific Fall Invitational and the NWC Fall Classic.
McGrew had 11 rounds this season below 80, with her best 18-hole score a 73 on the second day of the Phoenix Invitational. Her best two-day score was a 147 in that same event. In NCAA statistics (prior to Apr. 21-22), she ranked third in the West Region in score vs. par (7.84) and scoring average (80.05), while standing 22nd nationally in score vs. par and 26th in scoring average. She was a two-time recipient of the Bruin Athletic Association Women's Athlete of the Week and the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week awards, and was honorable mention for NWC weekly honors once.
George Fox finished the 2011-12 season with a ranking of No. 7 in the nation with 338 points in the Golf World / National Golf Coaches Association Division III final poll. The Bruins won six of their 12 tournaments this season and finished second twice, with an overall record against all opponents of 68-23 (.747). George Fox won a share of its third straight NWC championship, sharing the title with Whitman College (the Bruins were co-champions with Whitworth University in 2010 and won it outright in 2011). In six years of intercollegiate women's golf, all under McCloskey, the Bruins have compiled a record of 286-111-1 (.720).