NCAA Women's Golf Championships: Arizona State beats Northwestern, claims eighth national title

Northwestern was the top seed, and close to home at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. But Arizona State was better.

The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 3 1/2 - 1/12 in Wednesday's NCAA Women's Golf Championship final to claim their 8th NCAA title, more than any other program in NCAA women's golf history. Linnea Strom's 5-foot putt on the 15th hole provided the clinching point. 

PGA Tour star John Rahm, who competed for the Sun Devils up until last year, joined the celebration on Twitter.

Strom rallied from an early deficit and went two up on Big Ten Freshman of the Year Stephanie Lau through seven holes. Lau made a long putt for eagle on the 11th hole, cutting Strom's lead to one. But Strom countered, winning the next three holes and clinching a 5&3 win -- and the Sun Devils' title -- on 15.

[Related: 2017 NCAA Women's Golf Championships match play scores (NCAA.com)]

The Sun Devils already had two points on the board thanks to Olivia Mehaffey and Roberta Liti. Mehaffey held a strong advantage over Sarah Cho throughout Monday's match, going 4-up through the first nine holes and cruising to a 4&3 win. Liti's 5&4 win over Janet Mao 5&4 was similarly decisive, leaving plenty of time to cheer on their teammates.

Sophia Zeeb came back from a one-hole deficit to square up her match with Kacie Komoto through nine and took a 1-up lead through 10. But Komoto regained a healthy 3-up score through 17 and earned Northwestern its sole point, 3&1.

Senior Monica Vaughn, who won the NCAA individual championship on Monday, battled back from a 5-hole deficit to square her match vs. Hannah Kim that ultimately ended in a halve. Vaughn is the first woman individual and team champion since USC's Annie Park in 2013. 

The victory capped a dramatic day for the Sun Devils, who were on the brink of elimination when semifinal play was suspended due to darkness late Tuesday.
 
When play resumed at first light Wednesday, ASU capitalized on a fresh start. Vaughn and Strom both won their matches on their first extra holes to flip a 3-1-1 overnight deficit into a 3-2 win.
 
The Pac-12 Conference now stands at 499 total NCAA championships – one away from becoming the first conference ever to win 500. 
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