SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The No. 26 Virginia women’s golf team will be among the first teams on the course when the NCAA Championships get underway Friday (May 19) at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Cavaliers will tee off at 6:32 a.m. MST along with Arizona and Oklahoma State. UVA qualified for the NCAAs following a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Westfield (Ind.) Regional.
Virginia is one of 30 teams competing for the national championships and the stroke play champion. The field was expanded by six teams starting this year.
After three days (May 19-21) of stroke play, the field is reduced to 15 teams and the top nine individuals not on one of those teams for the fourth round (May 22) that will decide the individual champion. The top eight teams from stroke play advance to two days (May 23-24) of match play competition to determine the NCAA Champion.
During the second round, UVA, Arizona and Oklahoma State will start at 11:52 a.m. MST from the 10th tee. The third round is repaired based on the team standings. It starts at 6:10 a.m. MT while Monday’s final round of stroke play starts at 10 a.m.
Virginia is joined by ACC schools Duke, Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, Florida State at the event. The six ACC schools at the event is the most ever for the conference.
The Virginia Lineup
Name Year Hometown Stroke Avg.
Amanda Sambach So. Pinehurst, N.C. 71.08
Celeste Valinho Sr. Jacksonville, Fla. 73.04
Jennifer Cleary Jr. Wilmington, Del. 73.40
Megan Propeck So. Leawood, Kan. 73.88
Rebecca Skoler Jr. Needham, Mass. 74.93
Riley Smyth Grad. Cary, N.C. 75.05
Note: Five individuals compete in each round with teams having the opportunity to substitute in a sixth player.
In the Rankings Golfstat Golfweek
Virginia 26th 22nd
Amanda Sambach 29th 9th
Celeste Valinho 126th 134th
Jennifer Cleary 133rd 135th
UVA’s roster includes five players with previous experience at the NCAA Championships. Amanda Sambach, Jennifer Cleary, Rebecca Skoler and Celeste Valinho all made their NCAA debuts at Grayhawk last year. Sambach and Cleary played all four rounds. Sambach was 31st at 296 while Cleary was 70th at 308. Skoler played in the final two rounds while Valinho appeared in the first, second and fourth rounds. Graduate student Riley Smyth was 61st in 2019 as a freshman and played in the first three rounds of stroke play last year.
Virginia is making its 13th NCAA Championships appearance in the 20-year history of the program. UVA’s best finishes at the NCAAs were back-to-back fourth-place showings in 2011 and 2012. In 2016, the Cavaliers finished fifth in stroke play and lost to Washington 3-1-1 in the quarterfinals of match play. In its most recent team appearances, UVA was 14th at the 2019 tournament held at The Blessings Club in Fayetteville, Ark., and 15th at last year’s tournament at Grayhawk. Beth Lillie (current assistant coach at Cal Poly) was 9th at both the 2021 and 2022 events.
The Cavaliers placed fourth at the NCAA Westfield Regional at The Club at Chatham Hills in Westfield, Ind. UVA shot 15-under 849 including a final round of 10-under 278. That was UVA’s best single-round score of the season. Virginia sophomore Amanda Sambach shared medalist honors at 13-under 203 with Mississippi State’s Julia Lopez Ramirez. Sambach’s score was the best ever by a Cavalier at a regional site. Celeste Valinho finished 13th at 4-under 212 while Megan Propeck was 21st at 2-under 214. Rebecca Skoler was 37th at 221 and Jennifer Cleary was 52nd at 226.
Amanda Sambach bookended a terrific sophomore campaign by winning the ANNIKA Intercollegiate to open the year and posting back-to-back first-place finishes in her last two outings at the ACC Championships and the NCAA Westfield Regional. Sambach enters the NCAA Championships having shot under-par during her last eight rounds and is 27-under in postseason play. She is a finalist for both the ANNIKA Award and the WGCA Player of the Year honor.
Sambach’s three wins this season is a UVA single-season record. Her stroke average (71.08) entering the NCAAs is the best single-season average in program history. She has produced 17 rounds of par or better which is one off the UVA season mark.
Virginia junior Jennifer Cleary (Wilmington, Del.) and sophomore Amanda Sambach (Pinehurst, N.C.) were named to the 15-member 2023 All-Atlantic Coast Conference team. It marked the second consecutive season for both players to earn the honor.
Junior Jennifer Cleary and sophomore Amanda Sambach participated in the 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Sambach tied for 14th at 3-over 219 while Cleary failed to make the cut for the final round. It was the third time Sambach has qualified for the tournament and marked the first time she advanced to the final round of competition.
• Head coach Ria Scott is leading UVA to its third team appearance at the NCAA Championships. She did so in 2019, her first season at Virginia and again in 2022 and 2023.
• Scott is one of 24 coaches featured on the Watch List for the Women’s Golf Coaches Association to its Division I Jackie Steinmann National Coach of the Year award.
• Scott led UVA to NCAA regional play in 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023. There was no postseason in 2020 due to the pandemic.
• She coached Oregon to postseason play in all nine of her seasons in Eugene.
• Scott led the International Team to the 2020 Palmer Cup championship and was an assistant coach on the 2019 International squad that also won the competition.
• UVA assistant coach Marissa (Dodd) Majors was 16th at the 2015 NCAA Championships held at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
Future NCAA Host
Virginia was selected as a host for a 2025 Division I Women’s Golf Regional Championship site. The Cavaliers will be one of six regional sites in 2025 on May 5-7. The event will be held at Birdwood Golf Course, the home course for the Cavaliers.