Round 4 recap: USC cruises to NCAA women's golf national championship
USC won its third national championship and Annie Park won the NCAA individual title as play wrapped up at the NCAA women's golf championships in Athens, Ga. Overall, four Pac-12 teams—USC, UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona—finished in the top 10, while Stanford wound up tied for 13th and Oregon finished in 22nd.
Simply put, the Women of Troy were a cut above the rest all week, finishing the tournament at -19 to be the only team to finish the tournament under par. In a championship event that was pretty much decided Wednesday when the Women of Troy broke an NCAA record, USC won the tournament by a resounding 21 strokes (Duke finished second at 2-over). How close was third-place Purdue? A cool 40 shots back. Better yet, Wednesday wasn't the only day USC women's golf set a record:
That's what we call domination. Annie Park took home individual medalist honors as well to complete the Reign of Troy on the University of Georgia Golf Course. Entering the final round with a two-shot lead, Park ended coasting to a six-stroke victory over Duke's Lindy Duncan that was propelled by a 1-under Friday, thus bringing her four-round score to 278 (-10). How good was Park today (and this week)? This tweet might help describe things:
And, ya know, this is just the beginning for Ms. Park:
That's a scary thought for the rest of the country. Meanwhile, Kyung Kim and Sophia Popov also garnered top-10 finishes with four-round 1-overs (they finished tied for sixth with a couple of others). Congratulations to the Women of Troy, who can put that big ole trophy next to the ones they earned in 2003 and 2008. Every five years ain't a bad pace. Friday's victory also gives USC its school-record seventh tournament win of the season.
UCLA hung around the top five all week long and that's where it ended up with a 13-over Friday that landed them in fourth place (1174, +22). As such, the Bruins get a little keepsake:
Erynne Lee was able to navigate an especially windy course to the tune of a 73 and finish as one of just five golfers who were under par for the tournament. Her 1-under landed her in a tie for fourth with Duke's Celine Boutier. Tiffany Lua rounded things out on a positive note with a birdie on 18 to complete Friday's round at 3-over and the tournament at +6 (tied for 23rd). The Bruins will remember this trip to the NCAA championships for a solid showing and, of course, yogurt:
You can never go wrong with some fro-yo.
The Sun Devils just missed out on a share of the trophy love by finishing in fifth place (the top four teams get trophies), but their 1181 (+29) for the tourney gave the Pac-12 three teams in the top five, doing so thanks to a 17-over 305 on Friday. Just how hard did the course play today? Arizona State shot its worst round by nine strokes and still improved one spot from Thursday. Thanks to a string of consecutive birdies on 12, 13 and 14, Justine Lee finished as Arizona State's low Friday golfer with a 1-over 73. Meanwhile, Noemi Jimenez took home the best four-day score for a Fork at 2-over, earning the Spaniard a tie for 10th.
The Wildcats were the first Pac-12 team to wrap up play on Friday, shooting 12-over as a team in the final round to finish up the week with a four-round total of 1190 (+38). The 300 on Friday turned out to be a very solid score, allowing the 'Cats to jump into the top 10 and finish in eighth place. You know what might have helped their cause today? Getting some inspiration from Hall of Famer and former Wildcat Annika Sorenstam:
Andrea Vilarasau did her best to impress the 1991 NCAA champion Sorenstam, surviving the toughest stretch of the course (the first four holes) to finish Friday 2-under thanks to five birdies on her final ten holes. A 70 is always a good score on a par 72, but today it happened to be the best: Vilarasau was one of just three golfers (Duke's Lindy Duncan and USC's Doris Chen) to play 2-under today. Getting in at 2-over for the tournament was a pretty good spot to be after Friday, as Vilarasau finished in a tie for 10th.
Like many schools today, the Card had its worst round of the week, shooting 33-over Friday. However, unlike UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona, Stanford did feel it a good bit on the leader board, dropping from seventh to tied for 13th (1200 exactly, +48). It's still a much better finish than last year for Anne Walker's group, as they wrapped up the 2012 NCAA championships in 24th place. Mariah Stackhouse was unable to keep up her Tuesday-Thursday pace, finishing Friday with a 9-over 81 to drop to 7-over and tied for 29th. There weren't too many bright spots for the Cardinal on Friday (eight double bogeys and a triple bogey for Nerd Nation today), but Sally Watson did come in at 7-over today to finish as Stanford's lowest golfer on her final collegiate round. Not a bad place to wrap up a collegiate career...
Making a bit of a surprise appearance in the NCAA championships this year after qualifying from the West Regional with a No. 14 seed, the Ducks shot their highest round of the tournament with a 36-over 324 that left them at +65 for the tournament and in 22nd out of 24 teams. Oregon shot its highest round by 23 strokes, but got a solid round from Hanule Sky Seo, who recorded a 76 in her final round of collegiate golf. It was also the final round of the collegiate career of senior Avery Sills, who shot 87 (+15) today.
Oregon's low golfer of the tournament was Cassy Isagawa. Threatening to finish in the top 10 coming into Friday, Isagawa fell off the pace a bit and carded a 78 to finish the 72 holes at 6-over and tied for 23rd. It was still a solid campaign for the Ducks as they reached their eighth NCAA final and first since 2010.
The Conference of Champions' favorite lone ranger Ying Luo represented her Huskies well, parring her last eight holes to finish 6-over on the day and 13-over for the tournament (tied for 50th). She finished third amongst unattached golfers behind Erica Popson of Tennessee and Kelly Shon of Princeton.
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