The collegiate golfing career of Mililani’s Mari Nishiura came to a controversial end this week as the Oregon State senior was unable to make it out of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Regional in Baton Rouge, Louisiana without a single stroke being played at the tournament.
The 54-hole tournament which was originally scheduled to begin on Monday but after heavy rain was postponed to Tuesday and then on Wednesday before the event was cancelled completely after what NCAA Committee representatives deemed that the course was deemed to be “playable but not championship level.”
“All of us were just really, we kind of got stuck on the word, but you said it was payable, because we went out on the golf course, we looked at it, yes there was some puddles, we realize that but the greens had none on it, most of the standing water wasn’t really in play. So, it was just really heartbreaking,” Nishiura told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello on Thursday. “Twelve of the teams including ours, we just didn’t get a shot to make it to nationals. I think in the postseason it’s the time for the underdogs to come out. At least give us a chance to fight and that opportunity was just taken away from us.”
With the event cancelled, the top six seeded teams of the 18 that earned the spot into the regional were automatically advanced into the NCAA Championship, set for May 21-26 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Looking at our official manual it stated that it could be 54-holes, 36, 18 or none at all and go off of seeding, and it explicitly said that the championship had to be finished, every single round had to be done by Wednesday. So, if you look at a lot of other sports they might have most likely delayed it and had them play an extra day so we would be playing today on a Thursday just to get 36 holes because we do that all the time. So, we were just looking for the NCAA to make a change. Just say hey, either have a contingency plan. We knew the weather was going to be bad weeks out. Have a contingency plan to play at another golf course or just allow us to push it back an extra day just in case the weather is bad.”
Nishiura, who started her collegiate career at Nevada before transferring to the Beavers program, had her senior season of 2020 cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic has now gone through another abrupt end to her season, leaving her unable to knowingly take to the course for the final time. This time however, there is no second chance.
“It was really heartbreaking because last year we thought that was the end and we already had that taken away from us and then this year we were just all in such shock that it’s really done. I wouldn’t have expected out Pac12 championship to be the very last round I ever play competitively and in college golf. It’s just really mind blowing to really think about.”
The NCAA issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon explaining that it was committee policy to advance teams according to seeding in the event that no golf could be played.
“The NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Committee regrets that the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships regional in Baton Rouge could not be conducted as scheduled this week,” the statement read. “The University Club has taken on over 7 inches of rain in the past several days. The Division I Women’s Golf Committee, NCAA staff and the Games Committee in Baton Rouge have been in constant communication throughout the past several days about the course conditions that have led to this unprecedented and most difficult decision.”
Nishiura, who was a as a two-time Oahu Interscholastic Association High School Individual Champion at Mililani and multiple time Manoa Cup champion averaged 79.60 score in 15 rounds in 2021 after being selected as an All-American Scholar by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association in 2020.
“Moving forward I am moving into the business world. I have a job lined up for me thankfully but golf will remain a part of my life. I hope to volunteer and just play for fun but I think as someone that’s finishing their career, I just hope to make a difference. Not only on our program but so future generations don’t have to go through this type of experience.”