Arizona's winning team (Arizona Athletics photo)
KAILUA KONA, Hawaii (Nov. 7, 2018) – The past three days in Hawaii provided an excellent look at what it means to compete in the Pac-12 in women’s golf. In the end, defending champion Arizona walked away as the conference’s top team. They’ll all meet again next spring with a ring on the line.
With all 12 teams gathered at Nanea Golf Club, the top half of the leaderboard was separated by just a breath. Entering the final round, six teams were within four shots. In college golf, that kind of advantage can melt in one hole.
Arizona, with a lineup including four of five players from last year’s national-championship team, trailed California, the leader, by three shots entering the final round. That deficit grew to eight shots at one point over the back nine before the Wildcats’ upperclassmen started making birdies.
Senior Bianca Pagdanganan had an uncharacteristic opening-round 81 that included two double bogeys and a triple. But on Wednesday, she came back with a 5-under 68 that included four birdies in her final six holes. Junior Sandra Nordaas had two birdies in her final four, including one at the last. It was the hole that put Arizona one ahead of Cal, a team that had held at least a share of the lead all week.
Arizona was 2 under for three days while California was 1 under. USC and Colorado finished tied for third at even par. Oregon was fifth at 1 over and Stanford sixth at 3 over, meaning the top six teams were only separated by five shots at the end of 54 holes.
Arizona’s Pagdanganan and Nordaas finished T-25 and T-18, respectively, but it was Wildcat sophomore Yu-Sang Hou, with rounds of 69-71-73, who tied for first with Oregon’s Tze-Han Lin. It’s the first individual title of Hou’s college career.
A win to end the season was a positive rebound for a Wildcat team that lost two matches at last week’s East Lake Cup, a made-for-TV event that reassembled the previous season’s match-play semifinalists. Before East Lake, Arizona had finished third at the Windy City Classic and T-7 at the Annika Invitational.
"I'm super proud of our women to come back so strong after a tough loss last week at East Lake," said head coach Laura Ianello. "They showed so much heart this week. They played so well, so confident today. I'm so proud of Yu-Sang Hou having her first collegiate win. Along with that, Bianca Pagdanganan came up huge for us. Big senior move, birdieing four of her last six holes, just stellar. As well as Sandra Nordaas coming up huge again, just like she did for us in Chicago. Just overall great team effort."
Behind Arizozna, Cal's second-place finish still meant the Bears collected head-to-head wins on USC, Stanford and UCLA, the top three teams in the Golfweek
/Sagarin College Rankings. At No. 45 in Golfweek’s
rankings, Cal is the ninth-best Pac-12 team.
Cal’s final-round 2-over 294 was its highest score of the week. A runner-up finish this week is Cal’s best result since a runner-up at last spring’s Silverado Showdown.
"Whenever you get in a position to take home a title against multiple Pac-12 teams, that's where you want the team to be and that's where we were," head coach Nancy McDaniel said. "We didn't get it done today, but we learned a lot of lessons. One of which is that we can play with the best teams in the country. We had contributions up and down our lineup and had one of our best tournaments with five under-par rounds."
Information from Arizona, Cal Athletics used in this report
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The Pac-12 members get together to hold a
as the fall season nears its conclusion.
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