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Guseva Looks to Add the Cherry on Top

by Kevin Ivany

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Exactly 130 days after taking the 5,700 mile trek from Moscow to Coral Gables, University of Miami freshman golfer Nataliya Guseva has quickly ascended up the rankings one tournament at a time.

After her collegiate career began with a top-20 finish (t19th) at the UCF Challenge, Guseva added a top-15 finish two weeks later at the Moon Golf Invitational (t11th).

Remaining in an upward trajectory, Guseva capped the regular season with a quartet of top-six finishes, most notably placing sixth at the ACC Championship in Greensboro, N.C.

Despite the Hurricanes never receiving an opportunity to compete at NCAA Regionals as a team in Baton Rouge, La., due to weather concerns, the ACC Freshman of the Year is set to represent The U at the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Being here certainly means a lot to me; it was my first goal at the beginning of the season,” Guseva said. “I, of course, wanted to represent the University of Miami with my whole team, but the whole situation that happened in Baton Rouge was a bit crazy. But I am still really happy to be here with my coaches and I just want to represent The U in my best form and fight for the team. When [my teammates] were leaving Miami, they just told me that I have to win this championship. So, I know everyone would be proud of me and, of course, I would be proud of myself.”

Beginning Friday morning, Guseva will tee off alongside 131 other individual for 54 holes of action over a three-day period to see who will advance to the final round of action.

Following Sunday’s round, the top 15 teams and nine individuals will battle it out for one final day, with an individual champion crowned the following day.

As she prepares for her first championship run, the early January enrollee is looking to take it one shot at a time and to not get ahead of herself.

“I will just try to play my game,” Guseva said. “I am not trying to do anything special, I am just going to go out on the golf course, focus on every shot and stay in the present. And [if I do that],I think big things are going to come soon. So, I think the most important thing is just to stay patient and to just go into every putt and let it drop.

“What [head] coach Patti [Rizzo] and [associate head coach] John [Koskinen] told me is that I am here as if it is any tournament,” Guseva continued. “As coach Patti said, I am just going into the ocean and I just don’t know what is going to happen. So, as I said, [I am looking to] just play my game, focus on myself and if I do that, everything is going to be fine. But, most importantly, I just need to focus on my game and not everyone else. I know that I will be going against one of the best tournament fields, but I will do my best to be in the present and play my game.”

Most recently added to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) Freshman of the Year watch list Tuesday morning, Guseva is eager to represent The U on the biggest stage. It marks the first time since 2017 that the Hurricanes will be represented at the NCAA Championship, while in 2016 Dewi Weber earned runner-up status as a true freshman.

Overall, five Hurricanes have been crowned national champions dating back to 1959 – Judy Eller-Street (1959), Roberta Albers-Spear (1965), Ann Laughlin (1972), Cathy Morse (1977) and Penny Hammel (1983).

Live stats for the first three days of competition will be made accessible HERE, with Monday’s final 18 holes broadcast live on Golf Channel.

On Friday, Guseva will tee off on the 10th hole at 3:25 p.m. ET, alongside Houston’s Karen Fredgaard and Vanderbilt’s Celina Sattelkau.

On Saturday, she will tee up with the same group at 10:25 a.m. ET on hole 1. Meanwhile, third-round tee times will be announced following Saturday’s action.