Lianna Bailey couldn’t hold back her tears.
Standing at the back of the Clubs 18th green at Houston Oaks, the senior Cowgirl was overwhelmed with emotion as she reflected on her post-Big 12 Championship season. Bailey’s season was filled with a mix of ups and downs. low.
After the Cowgirls finished second in the 2020-21 season, Bailey returned home to Leicester, England, but struggled. Then, when she returned to a reloaded Cowgirl roster, she struggled to break the lineup. In fact, she didn’t write for the Cowgirls in the fall.
“For me, I came full circle a bit by finishing my freshman year. I had such a great year. Individually, I had two wins and was playing the best golf I’ve ever played,” Bailey said. “I came home that summer and had the worst summer of my life. All fall, I didn’t qualify to go on to win the first playoff tournament.
“On the last green, I just cried.”
After all the adversity of the offseason and fall, Bailey has cracked the code. She broke into the Cowgirl lineup, not giving up her spot the rest of the season. His journey from an unforgettable fall peaked seconds before emotions began to flow off the back of the 18th green.
Bailey had just completed a dramatic final round, which led her to a Big 12 individual title.
She was the leader heading into the third and final round of the event, but nerves and a tough course saw her lead dwindle. She didn’t know she had won until her ball was on the 18th green and the crowd let her know.
“I felt the whole ride was a battle with myself,” Bailey said. “When I double-bogeyed on the 14th hole, I thought it was over. I only realized losing 18 that I was on the verge of winning the tournament. It took a few days to s ‘imbue, really.”
The win means a lot to Bailey as she prepares to graduate on Saturday, but her season isn’t over yet, and neither are the Cowgirls.
Monday marks the Stillwater region’s first round for the NCAA Championship. The Cowgirls have the chance to do something they rarely get to do, defend their course.
“It’s exciting and I think it’s cool because (Karsten Creek) is such a challenge to play, playing it competitively is even more exciting,” Hailey Jones said. “I think we have a very good advantage, we know the course, we know how to play everything.”
Several Cowgirls expect their families to attend regionals, including Bailey. The team expects the atmosphere to give them momentum and propel them to the top four needed to qualify for the national championship.
“It’s a unique opportunity to play at home. This is my first time playing a post-season event at home,” assistant coach Maddi Swaney said. “It’s going to be fun. Stillwater, they love Oklahoma State and there’s a big following for OSU golf and I’m excited to be a part of it.