NCAA women's golf: USC's Chen wins individual title; Trojans finish second
After the first three days of the NCAA women's golf championships at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., the Pac-12 had yet to have one of its teams at the top of the leaderboard. The first two days saw the hometown Oklahoma Sooners on top, while the Duke Blue Devils took control of the leaderboard going into the final round of play.
Day 4 once again was a chance for the seven competing teams from the Pac-12 to make their move on the Blue Devils, most notably the USC Trojans who were sitting in second place, just six strokes behind the leaders. But it wasn't going to be an easy task for USC or any of the other schools in the field. The course had been tough, as TCC head golf pro Jeff Combe said, "It can bear its teeth."
The No. 1-ranked Trojans were sitting in second place heading into the final day of play after combining to tie for best score on day three (278), with No. 3 Duke and No. 31 Tulane. USC made a push Friday with its best round of the championship at 270 (-10), thanks to three sub-par rounds from Doris Chen (3-under 67), Kyung Kim (3-under 67) and Sophia Popov (5-under 65). Popov's final round 65 was good enough to tie for the best round of championship with Hayley Davis of Baylor and Emily Penttila of Tulane. Despite the superb final round, the Trojans (1132) were not able to leapfrog the Blue Devils (1130) and finished in second place on the team side of the championship, just two strokes back. On the individual side, Chen, who had a 207 going into the final day of play tied for first, put up another sub-par score. Chen's final round was good enough to earn her the individual title with a 274 (-6), outdueling the Blue Devils' Celine Boutier (277) who placed second.
The No. 2 Bruins, who came into the final day in fourth place behind Duke, USC and No. 7 Oklahoma, still had a fighting chance to earn yet aother NCAA title. However, it was not meant to be for UCLA. The Bruins combined for a 278 in the final round, passing up Oklahoma, but failed to keep up with Duke and USC. The Bruins finished third in the team championship with an 1145, 15 strokes behind champion Duke. The Bruins' Louise Ridderstrom, who shot a even-par 70 in her final round, finished tied for seventh on the individual leaderboard with a 282, eight strokes behind USC's Doris Chen, and as pointed out above, the 2014 NCAA individual champion.
The No. 5 ranked Sun Devils who came into the final round of play in sixth place, tied with desert rival Arizona, were not able to keep up with the top eschelon of teams. Despite the combined team round of 279, a team-low for the championship, Arizona State finished the tournament in fifth place with an 1150, 20 strokes off the lead. On the individual side, the Sun Devils' Noemi Jiminez finished with the best individual round for an ASU golfer, tied for 27th with a 287.
No. 11 Arizona, who came into the final round of play in sixth place and tied with Arizona State, posted a 287 combined round, identical to their previous round. The Wildcats' consistency kept them in the top 10, as they finished in seventh place tied with No. 22 Ohio State at a combined 1158, 28 strokes off the lead. The Wildcats' , shot a 2-under 68, which was good enough to move her from 14th into seventh place with a 282, tied with Ridderstrom of UCLA.
No. 12 Stanford came into the day in 14th place lokking to make up some serious ground. However, it wasn't the best round for the Cardinal as they shot a 289, dropping them into a tie for 18th place with No. 21 Florida at 1169. Stanford's Lauren Kim who had the lowest first-round score (67) and began Friday in third place, managed to card another 67. While the round was impressive, she could climb up the leaderboard and finished the championship in third place with a 277, three strokes behind USC's Chen.
The No. 6 ranked Huskies, who stared the day in 15th place, had a better round (286) than Thursday, but were not able to keep pace with the rest of the field. They fell to 17th overall with a final score of 1167. The Huskies' SooBin Kim, who was tied for 20th with a 217 heading into the final round, shot a 68, moving her into a tie for 16th with Allison Harper of Ohio State, Alexandra Kaui of Oklahoma and Kyung Kim of USC with a 285.
No. 25 California started the final round of play in 20th place tied with Michigan State. The Golden Bears did not card any golden rounds down the stretch. Friday saw Nicola Rössler (70) as the only Cal golfer to shoot par or better, while the Bears finished the championship in 22nd place with an 1180. Rössler, who came into the final day with a 216 and tied for 18th place, finished at 286, good enough for a share of 23rd with Sandy Choi of Duke and Elcin Ulu of Florida.