Bama charges to Annika title; UCLA's Tavatanakit top player
Alabama takes a winner's selfie (Annika Foundation/Twitter photo)
Alabama takes a winner's selfie (Annika Foundation/Twitter photo)

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (Sept. 19, 2018) – If you were paying attention last month at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, you might have predicted the scenario that played out Wednesday at the Annika Intercollegiate.

When three of the four semifinalists at the nation’s top amateur event were wearing Alabama Crimson, it was a window into how the Tide’s season might go. The Annika is a season opener for the top teams in the nation, and when Alabama rose to the top in the final round at Royal Golf Club, well, it wasn’t all that surprising.

Alabama overtook the rest of the field with an 11-under 277 despite wet conditions in Wednesday’s final round. Jiwon Jeon, a junior-college transfer from Daytona State, had 5-under 67 and U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman had 3-under 69 to lead the Tide. Under-par rounds also came in from Lauren Stephenson (70) and Angelica Moresco (71). It was exactly what Alabama needed to get to the top of the leaderboard and stay there.

The final round ultimately came down to three teams – Alabama, UCLA and USC. Duke, which had the first- and second-round lead, fell out of the picture early. Its four counters went 6 over in the opening four holes. Duke was 5 over in the final round, and ended up 14 shots behind Alabama after starting the day with a two-shot cushion.

To make matters worse for Duke – and the rest of the field – Alabama went wild on the back nine. Tide players logged two eagles, 10 birdies and just three bogeys. Alabama finished the tournament with a 28-under 836 total.

"We had a great finish," Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. "But we had to overcome some adversity in the last two rounds and that was critical to the win. Today we had some tough shots and hanging lies in wet conditions in the middle of the front nine. But we hung in there and that really won the tournament for us. If we don't save those shots, we're too far behind at the turn to make a run."

UCLA played nearly as well with a 10-under 278 in the final round and a 26-under total for the week. Sophomore Patty Tavatanakit was particularly impressive. She had seven consecutive birdies from Nos. 9-15, then dropped a 10-footer for eagle at the par-5 18th. That added up to a 28 on the back nine, and helped her to 9-under 63 on the day. It’s a new course record and ties the UCLA scoring record (set by Tavatanakit's teammate Lilia Vu in 2017).

Tavatanakit won the individual title, the fifth of her career, at 13 under. She was one ahead of USC’s Malia Nam and two ahead of Arkansas’ Dylan Kim.

USC was third on the team leaderboard at 21 under and Texas was fourth at 17 under. Duke wound up fifth another three shots behind that.

Information from Alabama Athletics used in this report

Results: ANNIKA Intercollegiate
1ThailandPatty TavatanakitThailand80072-68-63=203
2HIMalia NamKailua, HI50069-66-69=204
3TXDylan KimSachse, TX40067-68-70=205
4SloveniaAna BelacSlovenia40068-65-73=206
5CAAndrea LeeHermosa Beach, CA40069-68-71=208

View full results for ANNIKA Intercollegiate

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54-holes of stroke-play with a field made up of many of the top teams in women's college golf.

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