ASU Claims Women's Golf Championship
April 26, 2009
By Scott Campbell
STANFORD, Calif. - Arizona State senior Jennifer Osborn said the Sun Devils had been 'knocking on the door, knocking on the door, knocking on the door.' After finishing second or third in its past four tournaments, Arizona State barged through that door to win the Pac-10 Women's Golf Championship presented by Duramed.
Sun Devils freshman Carlota Ciganda finished 3-under 210 and won a three-way playoff that included Osborn to claim the Pac-10 individual title, and teammate Azahara Munoz finished tied for fifth as Arizona State beat runner-up USC by nine strokes at the Stanford University Golf Course.
'This is incredible to be the champion of the best conference in the United States,' said Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen, whose program won its second Pac-10 title in three years and eighth overall. 'We've had chances to win (recently), and we haven't come through in the end. Just the confidence we've gained this week is really valuable.'
After taking a five-stroke lead into the final day over UCLA, the nation's top-ranked team by Golfstat, the Sun Devils powered to the finish. Ciganda, Osborn and Juliana Murcia each shot 2-under 69 on Sunday, and Munoz added a 71 as Arizona State finished at even-par 852.
'The Pac-10's amazing,' said co-runner-up Osborn, whose team is ranked No. 1 by Golfweek. 'Other than nationals, (this) is the biggest tournament of the year. We wanted it really bad. We finally got our win.'
USC, No. 3 in both rankings and the Pac-10 and NCAA defending champion, vaulted past the rival Bruins with an outstanding final round of 278 to take second at 861. UCLA was the first-day leader at 7-over and performed better in each successive round, but nonetheless settled for a disappointing third at 12-over 864.
Leading from the start after an opening-round 70, Ciganda exhibited a poise and confidence that belied her freshman standing. A native of Pamplona, Spain, Ciganda added a steady putting stroke to her traditional power off the tee to win her first collegiate title.
'I can't believe it. It was a great week,' said Ciganda, who shared the lead with USC's Jennifer Song after the first day and was a part of a four-way tie for first heading into Sunday. 'I can't ask for anything more. It's incredible. The team won. I won. I have no words. It's really nice.'
Still knotted after the regulation 54 holes, Ciganda calmly stepped to the No. 18 tee in the first hole of the playoff and boomed her drive nearly 60 yards past those of Osborn and Song. After chipping to within a foot on her third shot, Ciganda tapped in for par, securing the championship when Osborn and Song missed mid-range par putts.
'On the tough, fast greens, she putted so well,' Luellen said of Ciganda, Arizona State's ninth Pac-10 champion and first since 2005.
Song, another standout freshman bidding for a wire-to-wire victory, eagled the par-5 No. 12 and shot 5-under over her final seven holes. But after a second-place tie with Osborn, her third runner-up finish in nine appearances, Song admitted her first victory is proving elusive.
'I might not be ready to win yet,' Song said. 'This is kind of a note saying, 'You're a tiny bit not ready.''
USC's Lizette Salas, ranked No. 1 in the country by Golfweek, shot a 6-under 65 on Sunday, the tournament's best round by three strokes, to finish fourth at 2-under.After Salas rolled in a downhill, 30-foot putt for birdie at No. 16 to move to 7-under on the day, Luellen and USC coach Andrea Gaston couldn't help but gawk.
'She's going crazy,' Luellen, the ASU coach, said to her colleague.
Added Gaston: 'She's going nuts. It's crazy.'
UCLA's Maria Jose Uribe shared fifth at 1-under with Arizona State's Munoz, the 2008 NCAA champion. Munoz and Osborn had a share of the 54-hole lead.
Playing in the powerhouse, second-to-last group with Ciganda and Salas, UCLA's Glory Yang shot 3-under on Sunday, claiming seventh place at even-par.
Cal's Pia Halbig (2-over), Washington State's Amy Eneroth (3-over) and Oregon's Cathryn Bristow (4-over) rounded out the top 10.
Oregon State's Elyse Okada (24-over) had a hole-in-one at No. 4, a 146-yard par-3.
In the team competition, Arizona finished fourth at 32-over 884. Cal shot a solid 284 on Sunday to take fifth at 35-over, edging past host Stanford (sixth at 38-over). Oregon (49-over), Washington State (59-over), Washington (61-over) and Oregon State (68-over) completed the field.
Arizona State's Munoz, Ciganda and Murcia earned First-Team All-Pac-10 honors, by vote of the coaches. They were joined by Stephanie Kono and Yang of UCLA, USC's Salas and Song, and Cal's Halbig.
The All-Pac-10 Second Team is: UCLA's Tiffany Joh, Sydnee Michaels and Uribe, USC's Belen Mozo, Arizona's Alejandra Llanez, Stanford's Mari Chun and Sydney Burlison, and Oregon's Kendra Little.
Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recipients are: Washington's Anya Alvarez, Arizona State's Jaclyn Sweeney and Osborn, Cal's Allison Goodman and Shannon Yocum, UCLA's Ryann O'Toole, Oregon's Bristow, Washington State's Eneroth, and Arizona's Amanda Wilson.