(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The NCAA Regional Golf Tournament comes to St. Joseph this weekend with four individuals and nine teams participating; that includes Missouri Western's Natalie Bird who is making history for the Griffon golf program.
"It kind of is a reward for everything that I've put into this," Bird said.
The Griffon senior will be the first Western golfer to represent the program at the NCAA Division II Super Regional being held at the St. Joseph Country Club May 5th-7th.
A top three finish would land her a spot at the NCAA D-II Golf Championships at Daytona Beach, Fla.
Bird, a Carl Junction, Mo. native, is showing that she's reached the potential on the golf course that she showed as a kid.
"Growing up, I think they thought I had potential, but now that I'm actually doing something with golf, I think it definitely makes a lot of those people happy. And it makes myself happy."
Bird was a 1st-team All-MIAA selection for three years, and finished three events in her senior year in the top five.
Her coach, Cathy Habermehl, says she knew she had something special from the minute Bird walked on campus.
"When she was a freshman, it just seemed so natural," Habermehl said. "I knew that we had someone special when she came on our campus that first year."
Now she's wrapping up her senior season at Missouri Western, but it won't close the book on her golfing career.
"I've sacrificed a lot for this, and that's not something I regret," Bird said. "I do have aspirations to play professionally, and so I just feel like this is kind of the next step going in, but at the same time it's just like any other tournament. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can, and if it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
Bird will be joined by Northwest's Steph Charteris in the super regional.
All participants played a practice round Saturday, and the first round of the tournament begins Sunday at 8:30am.