Courtesy of Oregon Athletics
The Oregon Ducks might have had their "Hello world" moment Sunday at the Mason Rudolph Championship where they completed a dominating performance with a resounding exclamation point to win the team title.
Entering the final round nursing a four-stroke lead over hard-charging Alabama, the Ducks ran away from the Crimson Tide and three other Southeastern Conference powerhouses by shooting 9-under 279 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club (North Course) in Franklin, Tenn. to win the Mason Rudolph Championship.
Oregon put together three subpar rounds of 276 (-10), 283 (-283) and 279 (-9) for a program-record score of 26-under 838 and a 14-stroke victory over the Crimson Tide, which finished at 12-under 852.
Florida (-11), Kentucky (-3) and Auburn (-2) also finished in the red.
"I'm so incredibly proud of this team for the way they competed this weekend," said head coach Derek Radley. "They played with confidence and stayed aggressive all weekend long. More than anything, they feel like they can really rely on each other, and that's something that is really special in college golf."
Oregon sophomore Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu
fired a final round 7-under 65 to earn her first collegiate victory with a 17-under score of 199, six shots clear of Camille Boyd
of Washington. U.S. Women's Amateur champion Jensen Castle
of Kentucky and first-round Auston Kim
of Vanderbilt tied for third at 8-under par.
Lu, who took a two-stroke lead into Sunday, turned in her second consecutive bogey free round in carding a final round 65 to earn her first collegiate title. The sophomore from Taipei, Taiwan had seven birdies on her Sunday card, three of which came on the final four holes, to set Oregon's 54-hole scoring record and claim the Ducks' first individual championship since 2018.
"Cynthia flipped the switch this week," Radley said. "She was just so poised and rock solid all weekend long. We always knew she was capable of putting together a tournament like this, but she really proved it to herself this weekend. It was something special to watch."
The Ducks also received steady Sunday play from juniors Ching-Tzu Chen
and Briana Chacon who turned in 1-under round of 71 and sophomore Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen
, who shot an even par 72.
It all added up to arguably the most impressive win in program history for Oregon, which missed match play at the NCAA Championships by just two strokes last spring. With a young and deep roster with a bona fide star in Lu, the Ducks seem poised to find their footing in a star-studded Pac 12 Conference and on the national stage.
"Four years in, this is really just a testament to the culture that we've been trying to cultivate here at the University of Oregon," said Radley. "Coach Monica (Vaughn) and I have been pushing for the belief that we can be one of the very best teams in the country, especially with the resources and facilities that we have available to us at Oregon."
Oregon's next test will come at the Windy City Classic, Oct. 4-5 in Chicago.
Second Round Recap; Sept. 25
Though not as torrid as their sizzling opening round of 12-under 276 on Friday, the Oregon Ducks posted a solid 5-under 283 on Saturday to maintain their stronghold on first place at the Mason Rudolph Championship being contested at the Vanderbilt Legends Club (North Course) in Franklin, Tenn.
At 17-under 559, Oregon will take a four-stroke lead over Alabama heading into Sunday's final round after the Crimson Tide turned in the lowest score of the day at 10-under 278.
Florida (-4; 572) and Tennessee (-3; 573) are also in red numbers but well off the pace.
All five Alabama players recorded scores under par Saturday to trim to Ducks lead to just four heading into the final round. Polly Mack finished her round with seven birdies for a team-best, 4-under-par 68 and slid into the top-10 at 3-under-par 141. The Tide also counted rounds of 2-under 70 from Benedetta Moresco, Angelica Moresco and Sarah Edwards while having the luxury to toss out a 1-under round from Emilie Overas.
Oregon's Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu
took over sole possession of the individual lead after carding a 4-under 68 on Saturday which left her at 10-under 134 at the 36-hole mark. The 2021 All-Pac 12 selection enjoyed a bogey free round which included birdies on holes 1, 4, 7 and 15.
"Cynthia is a superstar," said Oregon head coach Derek Radley said. "She's so consistent and so poised, and is really just showing a lot of maturity right now. She's striking the ball incredibly well and is capitalizing by making a ton of putts. She has the talent to be in this position every week, and I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings for her."
In addition to Lu's 68, the Ducks also counted scores from Ching-Tzu Chen
(71), senior Tze-Han (Heather) Lin
(72) and junior Briana Chacon
If Lu is going to win her first collegiate title, she is going to have to fend off U.S. Women's Amateur champion Jensen Castle
of Kentucky and Camille Boyd
of Washington, who are both two back at 8-under 136 after shooting rounds of 70 on Saturday.
of Alabama is within stroking distance at 6-under 138 after carding a second round 70.
First Round Recap: Sept. 24
It's just one round, but you get the feeling the Oregon Ducks won't be able to fly under the radar for much longer.
Returning an entire lineup that fell just two strokes of reaching match play in last year's NCAA Championships, Derek Radley's Ducks seemed poised to make their mark on the national stage this season after opening with a 12-under 276 at the Mason Rudolph Championship being held at the Vanderbilt Legends Club (North Course) in Franklin, Tenn.
Paced by a 6-under round of 66 by sophomore Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu
and a 69 by junior Briana Chacon
, the Ducks enjoy a six-stroke lead over host Vanderbilt (282) heading into Saturday's second round.
Oregon's 12-under round of 276, which also included sub-par rounds by Tze-Han Lin
(70) and sophomore Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen
(71), was the second best single-round in school history.
Alabama (-3) and Clemson (-2) also finished in the red on Friday.
"Extremely proud of our team today," said Radley. "Traveling across the country into a different time zone was something I really wanted to test right out of the gate, and I'm so impressed with the way our team responded.
"'Confidence' is our big word this fall – we want to be confident in each other and know that we can play with anyone in the country. We have a long way to go, but I'm very pleased with the way we came out and I'm excited to see what the next couple days bring."
Lu's 66 leaves her tied for second place with U.S. Women's Amateur champion Jensen Castle
of Kentucky and Camille Boyd
of Washington, one off the pace of first round leader Auston Kim
of Vanderbilt, who made six birdies and an eagle en route to a first round 65.
Lu was 1-over through her first four holes but a birdie at No. 5 turned the switch on her round. She preceded to make five birdies in a span of seven holes to get to 4-under. After a bogey on 12, she birdied 13, and added two more on No. 16 and No. 17 before finishing with a par to card a 6-under 66.
"What a way for Cynthia to start her sophomore season, coming out and shooting 6 under," Radley said. "You can already tell she's more comfortable in the college game now here in year two."
With eight birdies on her card, Castle posted her lowest ever round as a collegian while her eight birdies were also a career best. She rolled in four on each side, but the most impressive stretch took place in the middle of the day as she made the turn from the back nine to the front nine. There she carded six birdies in an eight-hole stretch, including four straight on 17, 18, 1 and 2.
Second round action at the Mason Rudolph Championship will get underway at 9:00 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Oregon Athletics contributed to this report