Courtesy of Oregon Athletics
For a program that hadn't sniffed a team title in five years prior to this season, the Oregon Ducks are getting the hang of this winning thing.
The Ducks, ranked third nationally by Golfweek/Sagarin, earned their second win in a row and third title of the season on Tuesday at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge held at Palos Verdes (Calif.) Golf Club.
Entering the day with a one-stroke lead over eighth-ranked Virginia, Oregon received steady play throughout its lineup en route to a final round of 2-under 282. At 4-under 848, the Ducks set a tournament scoring record for a seven-stroke win over No. 5 Wake Forest.
With two top-10 teams breathing down its neck at the start of play on Tuesday, all five Oregon players carded rounds of even-par or better over the final round. Briana Chacon
and Tze-Han Lin
both posted 1-under rounds of 70 while the rest of the lineup was at even par.
Oregon was a model of consistency all week, with Hsin-Yu Lu
(t-4th), Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen
(t-4th), Chacon (t-6th) and Ching-Tzu Chen (t-8th) finishing inside the top-10, while a fifth, Tze-Han Lin, tied for 12th.
The Ducks also won their last outing at the Florida State Match-Up at Seminole Legacy Golf Club last month. They began the year with a first-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville, Tenn.
"This is a great win for our program," said Oregon head coach Derek Radley. "The Northrop Grumman Challenge is one of the most prestigious regular-season tournaments in all of college golf, and that's a really, really good field we just went up against. It had an NCAA Tournament feel out there.
"I'm so proud of the focus and toughness our team showed all week, and especially today when we needed a strong finish. They are playing with a lot of confidence right now and truly believe they are one of the elite teams in the country. We're excited to get back to work and keep this thing rolling."
Wake Forest junior Rachel Kuehn
completed a wire-to-wire victory to pick up her second individual title of the year and fourth of her career. The Asheville, N.C. native found the Palos Verdes Golf Club to her liking, posting three subpar rounds (67-67-69) to finish 10-under 203, five strokes clear of Virginia's Beth Lillie
, who was playing close to her hometown of Fullerton.
Her tournament-record score of 10-under 203 ties her career-low and is the fourth-lowest 54-hole score in program history. The win also earned her an LPGA exemption into the JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes next month.
Kuehn, who also won the Tar Heel Invitational in October, now has four career wins, good for fourth all-time in program history.
"This week has been incredible, and I feel fortunate to have won on such an amazing course," said Kuehn. "To receive a sponsor's exemption into the LPGA tournament here in a couple weeks is a dream come true. I can't wait to tee it up against the best players in the world at the end of April. I'm so thankful for this opportunity and I'm looking forward to coming back."
"What continues to impress me most about Rachel is her drive to continually improve and to put in the hours necessary to become the best she can be," said Wake Forest head coach Kim Lewellen. "This preparation has led to multiple tournament wins this year and now an LPGA exemption."
Sparked by Kuehn's 69, the Demon Deacons turned in a 1-under score of 283 on Tuesday to finish second. Wake Forest has finished inside the top four in every event this season, with four wins, one second, a third and one fourth-place finish.
"The team played well coming down the stretch which is always a great takeaway from any event," said Lewellen.
USC, which had climbed to sixth in the Golfweek/Sagarin poll following back-to-back wins at the ICON Invitational and The Gold Rush, struggled to a sixth-place finish at 23-over 875. Freshman Amari Avery
, who was riding a two tournament win streak of her own, tied for eighth at 2-over 215.
The low round of the day belonged to Arizona State's Alexandra Forsterling
, who shot a 67 to jump eighth spots into third-place at 4-under 209.
Oregon and Wake Forest Athletic Communication Departments contributed to this report.