May 21, 2010

By Neil Amato
Special to

WILMINGTON, N.C. - Oklahoma State women's golf coach Annie Young hates to see Caroline Hedwall leave, but she knows it's the right move.

Hedwall proved she's player-of-the-year worthy Friday, taking a four-stroke win in the individual portion of the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships. Hedwall was the only player to shoot all four rounds under par, and she closed with a pair of 68s at the Country Club of Landfall's Pete Dye Course.

She also closed her college career after two seasons. She's going to play a summer of amateur events and then take her game to LPGA Qualifying School.

"She's ready," Young said. "A lot of players who go pro aren't ready, but she is. She's special."

Hedwall trailed Arizona State's Jennifer Johnson by one stroke after three rounds, but she moved into the lead in the middle of Friday's round, flirting more with birdies than bogeys and finishing strong on a hole that had given her trouble, and with a slim lead at the time.

Hedwall bogeyed No. 9 in the second and third rounds, and that par-4 was her finishing hole Friday. Johnson, finished on the back nine, trailed by just two shots when Hedwall came to the ninth tee. Hedwall thought she hit a good drive but ended up in a patch of grass that the lawnmowers missed. So she needed a solid approach to the green - and she got it, sticking it on about 25 feet from the pin. She two-putted for par, then waited.

It was 90 minutes before Johnson finished, but the Arizona State freshman couldn't rally because she couldn't maintain her consistency. Johnson had made just five bogeys previous three rounds, but she had four in her final 10 holes Friday.

"It feels like a good finish," Hedwall said after a phone call home to family in Sweden. "It is what I set out to do."

She also tied a record for championship play, joining Penny Hammel of Miami (1983) at 12-under par. Hedwall's 276 total was four shots better than Johnson and five ahead of Purdue's Maude-Aimee LeBlanc and Cydney Clanton of Auburn. Clanton and Stanford's Sally Watson shot 66 on Friday, the second-lowest rounds of the tournament.

Earlier Friday, LSU's Megan McChrystal didn't win the individual title she had hoped for, but she did leave Wilmington with an NCAA record. McChrystal shot 8-under-par 64, one stroke better than the mark of 65 established by several players, most recently Grace Park of Arizona State in 1998.

"In the second round, I made six birdies, so it was out there," she said of the potential to go low. "I just needed to bear down, not have stray shots and get rid of bogeys."

In the first round, McChrystal had four birdies and four bogeys. In the third round, she shot 76, making a pair of double-bogeys in a three-hole span. "I shot myself in the foot," she said.

McChrystal had 22 holes from the middle of the third round until late on Friday without a bogey. And in the final round, she made eight birdies on her first 15 holes.

"Today, everything just went my way," she said. "It was just one of those days where you feel like you woke up on the 18th green and said, 'Did I just do that?'"