Triumph One Day, Defeat the Next Is the Pattern in NCAA Tourney, and Wake Emerges as the Winner

May 24, 2023 | 7 min.
By Michael R Fermoyle

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

Scottsdale, Ariz. 

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

Match play


(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

Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website,, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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