EUGENE, Ore. – Duke freshman Virginia Elena Carta was crowned the 2016 NCAA Individual Champion, while the field in the team championship was narrowed to eight teams at the conclusion of the fourth round of stroke play Monday at Eugene Country Club. The championships are hosted by the University of Oregon.
Carta got off to a hot start for her final round, dropping in four birdies on the front nine to get to the turn at 4-under. After carding her lone bogey of the day on the par-3 11th, the freshman finished the day with a 3-under 69 to take the individual title at 16-under overall; eight strokes ahead of Arizona’s Haley Moore and Miami’s Dewi Weber, who finished tied for second. All three were freshmen.
“It means a lot,” Carta said. “As I said, I would have never thought [I would have been able] to win this tournament, especially as a freshman. Now my expectations are going to be high. But I mean, it has been a great year. I've been working really hard also with the team, and we've been working so much, so I'm just excited that the work paid off and that my putter finally worked, too.”
Monday’s fourth round provided plenty of excitement in the team competition, especially at the end of the day as four teams (Oregon, Oklahoma State, Arizona and Northwestern) battled it out for the eighth and final spot in Tuesday’s match play quarterfinals.
With play winding down, No. 8 Oklahoma State held a one-stroke lead over the host Oregon Ducks as Cowgirl Linnea Johansson approached her second shot from the fairway on the par-4 ninth hole. As the Ducks had already finished up their round with an 8-over 296, Johansson would need to par the hole to avoid a playoff with the Ducks for the final spot.
Johansson’s shot would sail into a bunker just left of the green. With an unfortunate lie, her chip attempt would bounce past the green and into the bunker on the other side. After yet another chip shot landed in the original bunker, Johansson was able to stick it on the green, but not before the damage was done. The redshirt junior would post a triple on the hole, putting the Cowgirls below the cutline in favor of the Ducks and effectively eliminating them from contention.
A charging Arizona squad would make a push to leapfrog Oregon, but the Ducks would sneak in, extending their season and winning the opportunity to participate in the match play portion of the championship on their home course.
“I’m just excited that we have another chance tomorrow and we have a new day of golf,” Oregon senior Caroline Inglis said. …“I’m excited to get out there in match play. It’s a totally different mentality and I’m excited to see what our team can do. We may be the underdog, but it’s match play and you never know what can happen.”
The Ducks will take on No. 3 UCLA in the quarterfinals at 7:50 a.m. PT Tuesday morning. Led by Lilia Vu’s 67, the Bruins moved into first thanks to a 6-under 286 in their final round to jump USC.
Also jumping USC on the team leaderboard was 12-ranked, and defending national champion Stanford, who fired a 9-under 279 to jump three spots into second. The Cardinal will face No. 18 South Carolina at 7 a.m. PT in Tuesday’s match play quarterfinals.
USC is set to match up against No. 5 Duke at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, while Washington and Virginia, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, will meet at 7:50 a.m.