Husky Golfers Make Record-Setting Charge at NCAAs
May 21, 2004
Auburn, AL - The 12th-ranked Washington women's golf team will have to wait until Saturday to find out where it finished at the NCAA Championships. A three-hour lightning delay suspended play during the afternoon session, forcing the teams that started the day in the top 12 spots on the scoreboard to complete their rounds Saturday. When the final putt does drop, there is a strong possibility the Huskies will find themselves with a top-10 finish.
Thanks to below-par rounds from sophomore Paige Mackenzie, senior Lindsay Morgan and freshman Ashley Bickerton, Washington shot a final round 4-under 284 to charge up the leaderboard at Grand National in Auburn, Ala. The Huskies entered Friday's play in a four-way tie for 14th place, 36 strokes above par. By the end of their morning session they had jumped all the way to 10th on the leaderboard with the final dozen teams just beginning their afternoon tee times.
The Huskies finished the tournament at 32-over 1184. Tennessee posted the next best score among the teams in the clubhouse. The Lady Vols were 14th at 1193. USC, the defending national champions, were in 15th place at 1995.
Mackenzie led Washington's stellar effort by carding a 4-under 68. She completed her final 36 holes at the NCAAs at 7-under. She was tied for ninth at even-par 288 on the active leaderboard when play was suspended. Mackenzie figures to post the best individual finish at the NCAAs by a Husky. She holds the previous best mark with her 25th-place showing in 2002. Her 72-hole score bettered her own school record for NCAA play by six strokes.
'I hit the ball really well,' Mackenzie said. 'The last 45 holes or so went really well. I just had that stretch of nine holes in the second round where I stumbled a little.'
Mackenzie admitted she was hoping for a strong finish and a shot at a top-10 finish.
'That was my goal today,' she said. 'I wanted to play well enough to finish in the top-10. I didn't know what my score was while I was out there, but I knew I was having a good round.'
'In typical fashion, she bounced back and played seven under over the last two days,' said UW coach Mary Lou Mulflur. 'This was a big tournament for Paige. I'm sure she'll get strong consideration for preseason All-American next year. The Curtis Cup is coming up in a few years and this is the type of performance that will get her some attention for things like that.'
Washington's final round team score was the best ever in NCAA play and ranks as the third-best overall round in school history. The Huskies' final team score was 19 strokes better than the 1203 the team posted while placing 16th at the 2002 NCAA tournament. That 16th-place finish, along with the same standing in 1995, stood as the team's previous best NCAA performance.
And it could have been better. At one point the Huskies were 7-under par during Friday's round.
Starting on the back nine, Bickerton got the Huskies off to a fast start carding a birdie on her first hole. She added another on her sixth hole and got to 3-under before a double-bogie on her 15th hole. On her final par three she dropped her tee shot within five feet of the pin and picked up another birdie to finish at 2-under 70. It was her best round as a collegian. After startingthe tournament with a 78 and 85, she carded rounds of 72 and 70 during her final 36 holes.
'I didn't have any bogies and just the one double,' Bickerton said. 'Besides that one hole I was pretty consistent and that was a lot less stressful. I really went after it on the last par three and was able to get one of the strokes back with a birdie.'
Morgan also shot 70, equaling her best score of the season. She finished out her career in dramatic fashion by hitting her approach shot to within two feet of the cup on her final hole. She tapped in for the birdie. Morgan finished the tournament as the Huskies number-two scorer at 14-over 302.
'Today was great, it was exactly what I wanted to do,' Morgan said. 'It was awesome to see the whole team come through like that. The fact I was finally able to contribute this week was great.'
'The last two rounds of the last two tournaments we have played in have been as good as you could hope players would be in that type of situation with that type of pressure,' said Husky coach Mary Lou Mulflur.
'They went out there and fought hard today and not everyone is going to commit to that after struggling early in this tournament. They played terrible the first day, but they just kept battling and battling. It's easy to say let's just finish up and head home. It was nice for them to get this taste today and have the feeling they can be a top-10 program. That's something to build on.'
'Today showed what we can do,' said Mackenzie, who finished the season with a school-record stroke average of 74.09. 'This is awesome to be able to finish like this for such a young team. This year we came down here and expected to have a top-20 finish. Now, I think we'll want to come back to the NCAAs and expect to have a top-10 finish. It's great to raise those expectations and build the program.'