Monica Vaughn embraces Coach Missy Farr-Kaye after her winning putt
SUGAR GROVE, IL (May 22, 2017) - Monica Vaughn of Arizona State won the NCAA Women's Individual Championship at Rich Harvest Farms, with a surprise one shot win.
All day it looked like the tournament would belong to Jennifer Kupcho of Wake Forest, who entered the final round with a one-stroke lead over August Kim of Purdue, with Vaughn and Ainhoa Olarra of South Carolina two shots behind.
Kupcho started out the day in the unusual position of knowing the target score before even teeing off. Because Duke University was so low in the team standings, they teed off early and World #2 Leona Maguire was able to shoot a 70 and post a two-over 218 before Kupcho ever got to the first tee. Elodie van Dievoet of Michigan University also made a charge in an attempt to post the low number in the clubhouse, but her final round 68 still left her one shot behind Maguire.
Maguire explained to the Golf Channel her mindset heading into the final round and trying to post a target score for Kupcho to see all day:
"Starting off this morning I was trying to get to even [par]. Obviously it quite windy out there and gusty in parts but the big thing today was to shoot an under par round, try to post a number for the girls to go after in the afternoon. There’s a lot of golf to be played out there but…I’m happy with my round and I guess we’ll just wait and see now."
For most of the day Kupcho didn't give her much hope, making birdies on the second and ninth to turn at two-under, and seemingly turning it into a two-player competition with Purdue's Kim, who rebounded from a double on her eighth hole with an eagle and a birdie to challenge Kupcho early on the back nine. But another double by Kim took her four shots back and allowed Kupcho the chance to take control of the tournament.
For sixteen holes it was a commanding performance by Kupcho, knowing exactly what she had to do and handling the pressure all day. But with Vaughn having closed to within two shots with two to go, Kupcho unexpectedly splashed her shot short of the green on the seventeenth and then three-putted, making triple and giving Vaughn the lead.
Later, Kupcho as told the Golf Channel, "[We] were just calculating the wind, thought we had it perfect...and then I hit the shot, thought I hit it perfect, looked right on line, looked so good, and just came up probably a couple of yards short."
Still with a chance on the downwind par-5 eighteenth, Kupcho then hit it into the hazard right of the fairway, scrambled to make par and finished tied with Maguire.
That left the door open for Vaughn, playing on the opposite nine and unaware of Kupcho's struggles. As Maguire began practicing for a potential playoff, Vaughn parred the seventeenth and found the green on the eighteenth. It came down to a two-and-a-half footer, which she buried for the win before getting mobbed and doused by her teammates.
"This is everything," Vaughn told the Golf Channel afterward. "[Coach Farr-Kaye] and I and the team have been through so much together, and to end it like this is just a great way to go out my senior year. Won the regional, and then the national championship, and it's so great to be a Sun Devil today."
With the win, Monica Vaughn becomes the sixth Arizona State Sun Devil to win the NCAA Women's Individual Championship.
In addtiton, Vaughn moves to #8 in the AmateurGolf.com/Golfweek Women's Amateur Golf Rankings. With her runner-up finish, Maguire moved into the #1 spot.
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Women's Championship
24 teams and 12 individuals not on a qualifying
team make up the field for the championship of
Division I women's golf.
After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual
champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance
match play to determine the team champion.
View Complete Tournament Information