CEDAR CITY, Utah, April 18 – Southern Utah’s women’s golf team plays its final event of the regular season next week when the Thunderbirds compete for an NCAA regional berth at the Big Sky tournament.

The 11-team tournament will be held Sunday through Tuesday at the par 72, 6,299-yard Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, Ariz., with 18 holes per day. The winner receives the Big Sky’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

This will be Southern Utah’s first appearance in the Big Sky championships after competing in the Summit League since the inception of the women’s program in the fall of 2007.

The Thunderbird lineup will include senior Sadie Palmer, junior Kaohi Loo, sophomore Monica Jung and freshmen Nicole Thomas and Rynae Baca.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, teams entered in the Cowgirl Classic include Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, North Dakota, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State.

Southern Utah’s best finish in a Summit League tournament came last year when the team finished fourth in the 10-team field. SUU’s Monica Jung was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year after finishing second overall, the Thunderbirds’ best-ever individual finish at the tourney.

The Coach: Richard Church (Utah ‘89) is in his 13th season as head golf coach and his 18th on the staff at Southern Utah. Prior to taking over the program from former Coach John Evans, Church spent four seasons as the Thunderbirds’ assistant coach. During his tenure on the SUU staff, Church has coached five academic all-Americans, one Mid-Continent Conference medalist, two Mid-Con runner-ups and the University’s only two NCAA post-season competitors in golf.

Last Time Out: SUU dug itself into a hole with a season-high round of 354 in the first go-around at Wyoming’s Cowgirl Classic, and although the team’s scores improved in each subsequent round the Thunderbirds wound up finishing 19th at the tournament, which was played at Ocotillo. After a 318 on Tuesday and Wednesday’s 315 SUU finished at 987, six shots behind New Mexico State. Sadie Palmer led the way for the Thunderbirds, firing a 74 on Wednesday to move from 61st to 37th place with a final total of 239. Monica Jung finished second among T-Birds in 74th place at 247 after a final-round 79 while Kaohi Loo was 78th another shot back after an 80 on Wednesday. Jamie Millard finished 93rd at 255 after Wednesday’s 82 while Nicole Thomas was 99th at 258 after shooting 83. SUU’s Rynae Baca finished 86th at 252 playing as an individual. Boise State, led by individual champion Hailey Young, went wire-to-wire as the leader.