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Pac-12 Champs And Hungry For More

Apr 20, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Ducks are the best team in the Pac-12 Conference, and now they're looking to prove they're the best team in the entire country.

The UO women's golf team won the first conference tournament title in program history Wednesday, shooting a round of 2-over 290 at Eugene Country Club to finish seven strokes up on the rest of the field. The Ducks saw Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu wrap up the second individual Pac-12 title in team history, finishing four strokes ahead of the runner-up, and also got top-15 finishes from Tze-Han (Heather) Lin and Briana Chacon.

Playing for the first and last time in her career with a home-course advantage, the Ducks' lone senior, Lin, matched Lu for Oregon's best round of the day with an even-par 72. They helped the Ducks finish at 6-over 870 for the tournament, seven shots better than runners-up Oregon State and Stanford.

"Since I committed to Oregon, the coaches have been talking about (this)," Lin said of the chance to play the conference tournament in Eugene. "The conditions the past few days wasn't what we expected; it's not what we usually get. But we fought really hard and hung in there together. I think it's the team that made this happen."

The tournament didn't unfold as Oregon had hoped, with the Ducks in the middle of the pack after a windy first day before fighting into a tie for the lead despite a five-hour weather delay in the second round. The final round was played for the most part in a light, steady rain, and the UO women rode their balanced lineup to victory — balance they hope will pay dividends again in NCAA Championship play.

The second-ranked Ducks finished ahead of top-ranked Stanford for the second straight tournament in which they faced off. UO coach Derek Radley said following Wednesday's win he "absolutely" believes he has the best team in the country.

"We've been talking about it all year," Radley said. "We've proven we can play in any conditions: East Coast, West Coast, rain or shine. So this team is really seasoned and confident. …

"We're not done yet. We've got some work to do, and so this is just the beginning of postseason. But, so proud to do this here on home turf and so thankful."

How It Happened: Oregon wrapped up play in the second round Tuesday tied with Arizona State at 4 over, one stroke better than Washington and four better than Stanford. But the Cardinal were one of five teams needing to finish their second round early Wednesday, and they picked up a stroke to trail the Ducks and Sun Devils by three at the shotgun start to the third round.

But the Ducks showed they meant business from the outset, with Lu and Lin each carding a birdie on her opening hole. Each also birdied her third hole of the day as Oregon opened up a gap on the field that narrowed at times throughout the day but never completely closed.

"I actually don't look at scores; that's just something I've kind of learned in my coaching career that it doesn't really help me help them," Radley said. "I felt it — I knew it was pretty good. And then I actually checked with about three holes to play, and just tried to contain my emotions and continue to finish business all the way to the final putt."

The Ducks didn't repeat the dominant back nine that put them in control of the tournament Tuesday, but they didn't have to. Chacon and Nielsen played steady rounds at 1-over 73, while both Lu and Lin flirted with rounds under par before each finished at even.

Lu finished off a 72-66-72—210 week that made her just the second individual Pac-12 champion in UO history, and the first since Eugene native Caroline Inglis won in 2015. That year also saw the Ducks finish second as a team, their best finish in the tournament until this week.

"I can't lie, I was pretty nervous this morning," said Lu, who was 5 under on par-4 holes in the tournament, the only player in the field under par. "Like, I know I'm leading and our team is leading. But honestly I'm worried about our team score more than mine. So that kind of distracted me from my game …

"I was pretty nervous the first few holes but I kept telling myself, I need to reset my mind — today's a brand new day, the third round, the last round. And it's time to make some history."

Lin was 2 under for the day until finishing bogey-bogey. She continues to show a knack for final-round magic, from her 69 to help Oregon win the PING/ASU Invitational last spring, to her 2-under 70 in the final round of stroke play at the 2021 NCAA Championships, to Wednesday's sterling effort.

"I like to do well when it's very competitive, and we're leading or we're ready to win," Lin said. "I think that's when I reach my peak, I would say — which is a pretty good trait, I think. And then also I think I just love competition. And that's what drives me."

Team Leaderboard
1. #2 Oregon — 295-285-290—870 (+6)
T2. #29 Oregon State — 296-296-285—877 (+13)
T2. #1 Stanford — 290-293-294—877 (+13)
4. #16 UCLA — 296-289-296—881 (+17)
T5. #12 Southern California — 292-292-300—884 (+20)
T5. #26 Arizona — 305-291-288—884 (+20)
7. #7 Arizona State — 294-286-309—889 (+25)
T8. #47 Washington — 294-287-312—893 (+29)
T8. Colorado — 302-297-294—893 (+29)
10. Washington State — 305-298-312—915 (+51)
11. California — 313-292-316—921 (+57)

Ducks on the Leaderboard
1. Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu — 72-66-72—210 (-6)
T7. Tze-Han (Heather) Lin — 74-73-72—219 (+3)
T13. Briana Chacon — 75-73-73—221 (+5)
T32. Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen — 79-73-73—225 (+9)
T37. Ching-Tzu Chen — 74-76-77—227 (+11)

What It Means: The Ducks had spent years anticipating this week, only to have weather Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning threaten to spoil their dreams. But they buckled down Tuesday afternoon to charge to the front, then kept an even keel through Wednesday's final round to capture the team and individual Pac-12 titles.

The Ducks continued their perfect record of top-five finishes this season and won for the fourth time in 10 events.

"It's so nice," Lu said. "We have people from Eugene, from Oregon, here cheering for our team, and I've been waiting for this moment. And I was really happy. I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world."

Up Next: NCAA Regionals will be held May 9-11 at six sites around the country, and the NCAA Championship tournament is May 20-25 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.