Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics
Stanford is human after all.
Playing without Rachel Heck
and Brooke Seay
who were sidelined with injuries, Stanford still managed to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Therese Hession Regional Challenge and by all indications seemed poised to win its fourth team title in as many outings of the year. Afterall, it's just not in their DNA to squander 36-hole leads.
However, Stanford did just that, dropping the team title to Pac-12 rival Oregon, which was more than ready to take advantage of the short-handed Cardinal's misfortunes.
Oregon started the day tied for fourth place, eight strokes back of Stanford and while others crumbled in the cold and windy conditions at Palos Verdes (Calif.) Golf Club, the fourth-ranked Ducks crafted a splendid 4-under team score of 280 to complete an improbable come-from-behind victory on the venerable George Thomas and William Bell design which dates back to 1924.
Beautiful final rounds in trying conditions turned in by Ashleigh Park
(69), Ching-Tzu Chen
(69) and Cythina Lu
(70) paced Oregon to its first team title of the season. At 6-over 858, the Ducks finished five strokes clear of Stanford (+11) while USC and Baylor tied for third at 12-over.
Park's 3-under 68 comes on the heels of a second-round 82 which left the junior searching for answers as she prepared for her final round. Starting on the par-3, 147-yard eighth hole, Park's round got off to an inauspicious start with a bogey. However, she managed to pick up five birdies coming home to cap off a 3-under round of 68.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team." Oregon head coach Derek Radley said. "It was a battle the first two days, but they kept their composure and came out and played absolutely lights out today. Our goal was to come here and defend our title from last year against a truly elite field, and we were able to get the job done. I am so impressed with our team and can't wait to see what's in store next."
San Jose State, which began the day just two strokes out of the lead, stumbled to a 12-over round of 296 and slipped down to fourth place at 16-over 868.
All was not lost for Stanford, however, as sophomore Rose Zhang
won her fourth individual title of the season and eighth of her career with a 6-under score of 207. After carding back-to-back 3-under rounds of 68, the world's top-ranked female amateur closed with an even par round of 71 to finish off a three-stroke victory over Chen, Silje Ohma
of Baylor and Sophie Guo
Zhang is now tied with Heck and Mhairi McKay for second all-time at Stanford for career victories, and just one shy of Andrea Lee's school record of nine. The win also earns Zhang an exemption into the LPGA's DIO Implant LA Open at Palos Verdes Golf Club from March 30-April 2, which happens to be played at the same time as the Augusta National Women's Amateur.
Baylor's Rosie Belsham
turned in the lowest round of the day with a 4-under 67 to jump 17 spots up the leaderboard into a six-way tie for fifth place with among others, 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur champion Jensen Castle
of Kentucky, who turned in a final round 69.
ABOUT THE Northrop Grumman Challenge
Women's college tournament started in 1996 as a
to kick off the Spring season. Team (best four scores
out of five players) and individual competitions.
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