Medalist Biondi Wins Clinching Point as Florida Claims NCAA Title
May 31, 2023
Life is a liar, yeah, life is a cheat
It'll lead you on and pull the ground from underneath your feet
No use complainin,' don't you worry, don't you whine
Cause if you get it wrong, you'll get it right next time
Get It Right Next Time -- Gerry Rafferty
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The NCAA Women's Division I Championships were a lot like that verse in the Gerry Rafferty song. A team and its players would be the stars of the show one day, and then lose the next.
In the 72-hole stroke-play portion of the tournament, the big winners were the No. 1 -ranked team in the rankings -- and defending NCAA champion -- Stanford, and the No. 1-ranked player, Stanford's Rose Zhang, who won the individual championship last year. After a slow start this year, Stanford came back with the lowest team score on Day 2 and claimed the No. 1 seed by five shots over No. 2 seed Texas (1133 to 1138) and six over No. 3 Wake Forest (1139). No other team was within 20 strokes of the Cardinal.
Zhang, a sophomore from Arcadia, Calif., is, in addition to being the top-ranked player in women's college golf, also the top-ranked player in the world in women's amateur golf. She, like the Stanford team, started slowly in the stroke-play portion of the tournament, with a first-round score of even-par 72 at Grayhawk Golf Club, but she ended up coming back to win medalist honorsfor the second year in a row, something no one had ever done before in the Women's NCAA DI tournament. But it was close. Zhang shot 67 in the second round, but followed that with a 71 and started Monday's final round of stroke play four shots behind the leader, Southern Cal freshman Catherine Park. Zhang closed a 68, for a 72-hole total of 278 (10 under), and that was good enough for a one-shot victory over Park and Lucia Lopez-Ortega of San Jose State.
As impressive as the accomplishments of Stanford and Zhang were in the stroke-play part of the tournament, the team and its star player were gone less than 24 hours later.
The Cardinal made it through the match-play quarterfinals without too much difficulty, beating the No. 8 seed, Pepperdine, 3-1. Zhang defeated Reese Guzman 6&5 in that one. But on Tuesday afternoon, Southern Cal, the No. 5 seed, haviing finished stroke play 21 shots behind Stanford, dispatched the Cardinal 3-1 in the semifinals. The Trojans' Brianna Navarrosa, a junior who tied for 61st in stroke play, 19 shots behind Zhang, beat Zhang 2&1 in the feature match. Southern Cal got its other two points from Cindy Kou, who beat Megha Ganne 2&1, and Christine Wang, who knocked off Brooke Seay, also be a score of 2&1.
Suddenly, Stanford was gone, and Southern Cal was the talk of the tournament.
But then on Wednesday, Southern Cal ran into Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons came into the tournament as the No. 2 team in the Women's NCAA DI rankings, and they were third in the stroke-play qualifying, only one shot behind second-place Texas and six behind Stanford. Having beaten Florida State 3-1 in the quarterfinals, and Texas A&M 3-0 in the semis, Wake beat the Trojans 3-1 in the championship match. Park got the only point for Southern Cal, with a 3&1 victory over Carolina Lopez-Chacarra. A day after she upset Zhang, Navarrosa lost 3&2 to Wake's Lauren Walsh. In the other two matches, life kind of pulled the ground from underneath the feet of Kou and Amari Avery.
Kou lost 4&2 to Emilia Migliaccio in a match that ended on the 135-yard 16th hole -- shortly after Kou whiffed, on national TV, trying to hit a little pitch shot. The ball was in a fluffy lie, and Kou went right under it with her first attempt to pitch it. Her next try got the ball to within 18 inches of the cup, but she conceded Migliaccio's par after the Deacon grad student left her first putt a foot from the cup.
Avery's match had an even more ignominious ending -- with a shanked second shot at the 374-yard, par-4 14th hole. "Was that a shank?" could be heard from one of the Golf Channel announcers in a hushed voice, after the ball took off at a 45-degree angle to the intended target. It went into the desert. Avery, who was 5 down with five holes to play when she arrived at the 14th, quickly decided that she'd had enough and conceded. Fortunately, that wasn't the deciding point for Wake Forest. The clincher came a few minutes later from Walsh, who hit a wedge shot to about 10 feet at the par-3 16th and rolled her first putt to within 6 inches of the cup. That Walsh should get the clincher seemed fitting, because she was the highest finisher for the Deacons in stroke play, with a 282 and a tie for seventh.
NCAA Women's Division I Championships
At Grayhawk Golf Club
Par 72, 6,368 yards
Final stroke-play results
1. Stanford 288-273-290-282--1133
2. Texas 292-276-290-280--1138
3. Wake Forest 279-280-299-281--1139
4. South Carolina 286-276-302-289--1153
5. Southern Cal 296-276-290-292--1154
6. Florida State 288-286-289-292--1155
7. Texas A&M 287-284-298-287--1156
8. Pepperdine 295-279-296-290--1160
Did not advance to match play
T9. New Mexico. 287-288-301-287--1163
T9. Arizona 292-288-289-294--1163
T11. SMU 291-295-295-283--1164
T11. Oklahoma State 280-291-300-293--1164
13. Mississippi State 301-288-291-285--1165
T14. Georgia 286-290-294-297--1167
T14. LSU. 294-288-295-290--1167
Did not make the 54-hole cut
16. San Jose Stat. 292-293-297--882
17. Baylor. 289-290-304--883
T18. Michigan State 293-294-298--885
T18. Duke 2889-296-301--885
20. TCU 293-295--298--886
21. Texas Tech. 291-298-301--890
T22. Northwestern 303-291-298--892
T22. Oregon State. 297-293-302--892
T24. Clemson 299-287-307--893
T24. Vriginia 298-293-302--893
26. Augusta 296-294-303--896
27. Vanderbilt 305-292-300--897
28. Ole Miss 300-288-310---898
29. Tulsa 301-306-307--914
30. No. Carolina St. 305-204-308--917
1. Rose Zhang,Stanford 72-67-71-68--278
T2. Catherine Park, USC 71-64-71-73--279
T2. Lucia Lopez-Ortega, San Jose St. 68-69-71-71--279
4. M. Hinson-Tolchard, Oklahoma St. 66-70-74-70--280
T5. Michelle Zhang, SMU 72-72-67-70--281
T5. Ingrid Lindblad, LSU 70-72-68-71--281
T7. Lauren Walsh, Wake. Forest 67-67-79-69--282
T7. Charlotte Heath, Florida State 71-71-69-71--282
T7. P. Wongthanavimok, Arizona 69-73-69-71--282
Did not make the cut
T77. Bella McCauley, Minnesota 74-76-73--223
(7) Texas A&M def. (2) Texas 3-1
(1) Stanford def. (8) Pepperdine 3-1
(3) Wake Forest def. (6) Florida State 3-1
(5) Southern Cal def. (4) South Carolina 3-1
Wake Forest def. Texas A&M 3-0
Southern Cal def. Stanford 3-1
Wake Forest 3, Southern Cal 1
E. Migliaccio, WF, def. C. Kou 4&2
C. Park, USC, def. C. Lopez-Chacarra 3&1
R. Kuehn, WF, def. A. Avery 6&4
M. Rhodes, WF, 2 up through 16 over C. Wang
L. Walsh, WF, def. B. Navarrosa 3&2
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