BRYAN, Texas – Austin Ernst’s rollercoaster week at the Division I Women’s Golf Championships ended with her hoisting the individual championship trophy Saturday night at Traditions Club.
|BRYAN, Texas – At the end of a very long Saturday at Traditions Club, the UCLA team that had led the field since Wednesday held college golf’s highest honor.|
|• Complete story, click here|
|• Team Results | Individual Results|
Ernst round was spurred on by a hole-in-one – one of five during these championships – on the 165-yard second.
“It was a solid eight iron – and it was going right at the pin,” she said. “I looked down. I looked back up and heard the roar and it got really, really loud. Then I looked up and the ball was gone and everybody was going crazy.”
Ironically, Ernst had been jokingly complaining that seemingly everyone at the tournament was getting holes-in-one but her. She was still looking for her first.
“I played with Tiffany [UCLA’s Lua] yesterday and she got one. But when I got mine, I just lost it. I threw my arm up in the air and yelled. I hope nobody was teeing off on [No.] 1.”
Ernst is the first freshman to win the Division I individual title since USC’s Jennifer Rosales did it in 1998.
Ernst’s day began very early Saturday morning, as she needed to finish the final four holes of her third round, a round that did not end so well, with Ernst carding a 77 after wowing the crowds here with a second-round 66 on Thursday.
She insists that the difference between her Thursday 66 and her Friday 77 was not that much.
“It wasn’t that bad,” she said of her third round. “It was two holes. I hit two bad drives. I hit a bad drive on 9 and then on 12 I blocked it a little bit and the win kind of took it. Other than that, if you take those two holes out, I was 1-under for the round, so it wasn’t that bad.”
After her struggles Friday, she got some advice from her father Mark, a PGA professional in South Carolina.
“He just told me that in 72 holes, you’re gonna have a rough patch and that was my rough patch. It was four holes and I was seven over.”
After the hole-in-one, the hits just kept on coming for Ernst, as she drained a 60-foot putt for birdie.
“I hit a really good drive on 3 and then I just didn’t have enough club and left myself a long putt,” she said. “After I made it, I thought maybe this was my day.”
Ernst said those two things, instead of getting her too high for the remaining holes, it actually had the opposite effect.
“My nerves were really good coming down the stretch,” she said. “I was actually a little surprised. I knew I had been hitting it well.”
Arkansas’ Kelli Shean finished second in the individual race, finishing at 4-under for the week after carding a 68 on Saturday. Purdue’s Laura Gonzales finished third at 2-under.
No. 1 ranked single player Marta Silva Zamora of Georgia finished the championship at 1-under. Her final round was marked by very good short-iron work, but in the end, her putter let her down.
Despite not winning the title, Zamora said there were plenty of positives that came out of her week.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played this good,” she said. “I played really, really good. I just couldn’t make any putts. Today was just awful. It was just so frustrating.
“My putting didn’t work very well, which sucks.”
There won’t be much time for Silva Zamora to ponder on this. She begins play in the Spanish Amateur Championship on Thursday.