SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Arizona State defeated Northwestern 3-1-1 on Wednesday afternoon to claim the 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship at Rich Harvest Farms. The title is the eighth for the Sun Devils in school history, their first since 2009 and an NCAA record.
“Wow … we're all floating on cloud nine,” said Arizona State head coach Missy Farr-Kaye. “We keep saying, is this real, is this real, and it is. This is a grueling championship now with the format, and it's an exciting format, but you have to be ready to play a lot of golf.
“We took it one day at a time, we didn't get ahead of ourselves. We didn't worry about the future. We were working hard about staying in the present and enjoying the moment, and that's where -- that's where we are, so we're going to enjoy this moment.”
In the first match of the day, Arizona State’s Olivia Mehaffey won the first three holes against Sarah Cho of Northwestern. Mehaffey would build a lead as large as five before finishing with a 4 & 3 victory. Mehaffey went a perfect 3-0 in match play over the last two days.
The Sun Devils put their second point on the board as Roberta Liti posted a 5 & 4 win over Janet Mao. Liti led by one as they made the turn before winning four straight holes on the back nine to bring Arizona State within a point of the national championship.
What a day to be a Sun Devil https://t.co/M8aTfvcwxu— Sun Devil Athletics (@TheSunDevils) May 24, 2017
Northwestern’s Kacie Komoto gave the Wildcats a point as she defeated Sophia Zeeb, 3 & 1, with a par to win the 17th hole.
On the 15th, Linnea Strom clinched the title for Arizona State. After seeing her lead cut to one on the 11th hole, Strom won four consecutive holes to defeat Stephanie Lau and give the Sun Devils their eighth national title.
Individual national champion Monica Vaughn was beginning a 19th hole in her match against Hannah Kim when Strom clinched the match. Vaughn becomes the first player since Annie Park (Southern California) in 2013 to win both the individual and team national championship; she is the third player in Arizona State history to complete that double, joining Emilee Klein in 1994 and Kristel Mourgue d’Algue in 1995.
“It's an incredible week,” said Vaughn. “Everyone keeps saying that they can't believe it, but I can totally believe it. We thought it all year, we believed in it every single day all year long, and we accomplished it. To be an individual winner and to win as a team is just incredible. The team win for me is a really special thing, more special than my individual win.”
In the morning semifinals, both Arizona State and Northwestern completed comebacks, 3-2, to advance to the afternoon finals.
The Sun Devils, who trailed 2-1 to Stanford entering this morning’s resumption of play, rallied behind extra-hole victories from Vaughn and Strom. On her first hole of the morning, Vaughn chipped her third shot to within a tap-in birdie to win the 18th and force extra holes. On the first extra hole, Vaughn’s par gave Arizona State the point to even the match, 2-2. In the deciding group, Strom also needed a 19th hole to earn the third, and deciding, point for the Sun Devils.
In the second semifinal, Northwestern came into the day trailing in four of the five pairings, with no points having yet been decided. Sarah Cho put a point on the board for the Wildcats with a 2 & 1 victory and Hannah Kim turned around her match to win 2 & 1, giving Northwestern a 2-0 lead. Southern California’s Tiffany Chan put a point on the board for the Trojans with a 2 & 1 victory in the fifth match out. The remaining two matches both needed a 19th hole to produce winner; Muni He evened the match with a victory for Southern California before Janet Mao clinched the match for Northwestern with a with a 19th hole par.
With Wednesday's conclusion of the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship, Rich Harvest Farms will host the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship, beginning on Thursday, May 25, with the practice round. Competition will get underway on Friday with all 30 teams and six individuals competing in the first of four rounds of stroke play.