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Letting Loose

BATON ROUGE, La. – On Monday, the University of Miami golf team hits the par-72, 6,340-yard University Club for the first of three rounds at NCAA Regionals.

Teeing off at 9:50 a.m. ET on Hole 1, the Hurricanes will go toe-to-toe with 17 other golf programs in the Baton Rouge region, with the top-six teams advancing to the 2021 NCAA Championships May 21-26 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The 36th-ranked Canes earned an at-large bid into the tournament and have been seeded ninth. Overall, the challenging regional features 10 of the top 40-ranked teams in the nation: LSU (4), Ole Miss (5), Oregon (12), Baylor (15), Maryland (19), Alabama (20), Houston (24), Oregon State (29), North Texas (32) and Miami (36).

Live scoring throughout the event can be made accessible HERE.

Making the trip for Miami is the nation’s 24th-ranked individual and ACC Freshman of the Year Nataliya Guseva, fourth-year junior Kristyna Frydlova, second-year freshman Daniella Barrett and first-year freshman Sara Byrne.

Rounding out the lineup for her final run at an NCAA Championship is fifth-year senior captain and reigning Dinah Shore Trophy award winner Renate Grimstad, who is set to return from a foot injury that has kept her sidelined since last competing at the Briar’s Creek Collegiate on March 16.

“It’s very surreal to think that this is the last time I get to play the postseason tournaments, but I’m so excited to get started,” Grimstad said. “I would say the biggest takeaway has been the experience that playing a variety of college tournaments gives you, and how much you learn about yourself and your character when you play bigger events. I’ve been places I never thought I would get to see because of regionals and nationals and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for. Because this is the last time I play [for an NCAA Championship], the plan is to simply enjoy the moment, as I have been in this exact situation before, and both failed and succeeded. I think it’s important that we all get out of our way and simply play the game, and I have a good feeling that will help us perform well enough to go all the way this year.

“I’m surprised by how much I’ve missed being out here and it’s the first time in years I’ve struggled to sleep the day before travelling due to excitement,” Grimstad added. “Obviously, the injury forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate what I was doing, but I’ve learned so much about myself and the game these past few weeks that I wouldn’t have realized otherwise. I’ve truly missed being around the team, which is why my mission this week is to make everyone laugh and have a great time. Sometimes an injury is what you need to finally accept where you’re at and learn to enjoy the process and live in the moment. I’ve definitely looked forward to this event ever since I got injured, and now I’m finally feeling better and ready to go.”

Monday will mark the eighth straight regional appearance for the Hurricanes, who are looking to reach the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2017, Grimstad’s first year at The U.

“It would be awesome to have the opportunity to play for the National Championship for the first time as a freshman and the last time as a super senior,” Grimstad said. “The past few years, we have been tired and exhausted from finals, a long spring season and traveling coming into regionals, along with the added pressure of having to finish among the top-six to advance. It has simply been too much to handle, at least for me personally.

“This year, due to COVID and everything else that’s happened, we’ve been forced to look at the whole process differently, for the better,” Grimstad continued. “We’ve been given time off when needed and have spent practice working on our weaknesses to get ready for this week. It all comes down to us all performing well as a unit in order to make it to nationals, and I strongly believe this team has what it takes to do it, much like we did my freshman year.”

Ranking as high as No. 15 nationally as a team, the Hurricanes enter NCAAs with a pair of veterans, but also a trio of student-athletes ready to experience golf’s biggest stage for the first time.

However, securing a top-10 finish in her first ever regional experience, the Bergen, Norway, native understands what it takes to perform at your best in the biggest moments.

“The most important part of the preparations has been to tone everything down a notch for everyone. Yes, it’s the regionals championship, and how well we play this week determines if we go to nationals, but at the end of the day it’s just another golf tournament where the best teams after three rounds of play will advance,” Grimstad said. “For me, it’s been important to talk to the freshmen about expectations and how much pressure they sometimes put on themselves. They are so talented and skilled at this game, so there’s absolutely no need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ just because we’re playing at regionals.

“They excel when they enjoy what they do and have fun, so I’ve been trying to tell them how important it is to enjoy the moment and accept whatever result we get,” Grimstad continued. “Eventually, the college career comes to an end, just like mine is, so there’s no need to stress about having to perform well. I like our chances this year, but we have to be patient and learn to accept that we won’t be perfect at everything we do, and this week we don’t have to be perfect to make it, we just have to commit and trust that we have what it takes.

Teeing off first at 9:50 a.m. ET will be Barrett, as the Hurricanes match up against student-athletes from Oregon State and Houston. She will be followed by Byrne (10 a.m.), Frydlova (10:10 a.m.), Grimstad (10:20 a.m.) and Guseva (10:30 a.m.).

Focused on taking it one day at a time, Grimstad and her teammates are excited to take the course Monday morning.

“We obviously want to make it to nationals and we like our chances. However, as I mentioned earlier, this week is about learning to accept whatever result we get. We either make it or we don’t, simple as that,” Grimstad said. “Personally, my only goal this week is to smile and laugh as much as possible. With everything that’s happened the last few weeks, I’m just happy to be back and too excited to worry or care about the details of my game. Besides, I find that I play my best golf when I let loose and trust my instincts.”