Duke won the 2019 Division I Women’s Golf Championship on Wednesday afternoon in Fayetteville, Ark., defeating ACC rival Wake Forest in an epic final that couldn’t be settled in 18 holes.
At one point on the back nine of the Blessings Golf Club, the Blue Devils trailed in four of five matches. They rallied to win two of those matches in sudden death. With her teammates and coaches in the gallery, Miranda Wang made par to defeat Wake’s Letzia Bagnoli in 20 holes and clinch the program’s seventh national championship.
“It's been a heck of a week,” Duke coach Dan Brooks said. “But we've had a tough team all year long, and so they were tough this week, but they have been tough all year long. We've had plenty of weather and all kinds of stuff this year, and it's required a lot of patience. College golf does that, and I've never been with a group that has just stayed positive and just ground it out, and they did it this week, just like they have been doing it all year.”
Duke won its first title since the finals switched to match play in 2015, snapping the Pac-12’s run of four consecutive championships. The Blue Devils played like seasoned veterans in the format, handling the tense, tight matches with poised, precise golf. They won all three matches by a 3-2 margin and only escaped the quarterfinals because senior Virginia Elena Carta outlasted an opponent in 24 holes, tying the NCAA record for longest match.
Wake rode their two first-team All-Americans to the finals. Emilia Migliaccio, the ACC champion, went 3-0 in the match play and Jennifer Kupcho, the world’s top-ranked amateur and 2018 NCAA champion, was unbeaten in the first two rounds.
The finals turned on the Kupcho match. She fell behind for the first time in match play on the par-3 17th when Duke’s Jaravee Boonchant made birdie to go 1-up. Kupcho won 18 with a par to force sudden death. On the first playoff hole, however, she hooked her tee shot into the penalty area, leading to a bogey and Boonchant two-putted for par to win the match and give Duke a 2-1 lead.
“She truly is cool under pressure,” Brooks said. “It's great to watch her play short game shots when it matters a lot. I think we'd all agree that we'd put money on her. So she's really something.”
Wake freshman Siyun Liu evened the score with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 2nd that defeated Carta in 20 holes.
That turned all the spectators and cameras on the Wang - Bagnoli match. The players halved the first playoff hole, each sinking a 5-foot par putt to stay alive. Both found the fairway on No. 2 a par-5. Bagnoli’s pulled her 2nd shot into the water left and made bogey allowing Wang to win the match with a conceded par. It was Wang’s first match win after two defeats.
“I’m very grateful to be on this team,” Wang said. “We’ve been through a lot this week and we know if you stay patient things will turn around pretty quick.”
Wake had the best season in school history in coach Kim Lewellen’s first year. They watched the program’s most heralded player, Kupcho, win an NCAA championship in 2018 and make history this spring as the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion.
“I'll tell you what, those were some matches. I tell you what, we were paired up pretty well for those holes to go like they did and to extend that way,” Lewellen said “I think as probably a lot of the people watching, you're like, oh, well, Wake looks good, Duke looks good, Wake looks good; who knows now. It came down to the last, obviously shots, and it was just a great tournament and a great competition.”
The final was a perfect ending to a highly competitive, often stormy week in Arkansas that saw six of the seven team matches decided by a 3-2 score and 1-hole margin. Also, three matches had never reached extra holes in a single team match until Duke and Wake needed overtime to decide exactly where in North Carolina the trophy would land.
Duke 3, Wake Forest 2
Siyun Liu (Wake) def. Virginia Elena Carta, 20 holes
Jaravee Boonchant (Duke) def. Jennifer Kupcho, 19 holes
Miranda Wang (Duke) def. Letizia Bagnoli, 20 holes
Emily Migliaccio (Wake) def. Gina Kim, 1-up
Ana Belac (Duke) def. Vanessa Knech, 5 & 3
Duke 3, Arizona 2
Virginia Elena Carta (Duke) def. Sandra Nordaas, 2 & 1
Haley Moore (Arizona) def. Jarvee Boonchant, 4 & 3
Yu-Sang Hou (Arizona) def. Miranda Wang, 2 & 1
Ana Belac (Duke) def. Ya Chun Chang, 2 & 1
Gina Kim (Duke) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 1-up
Wake 4 ½, Auburn ½
Jennifer Kupcho (Wake) def. Kaleigh Telfer, 6 &4
Letizia Bagnoli (Wake) def. Elena Hualde, 1 up
Emilia Migliaccio (Wake) def. Brooke Sansom, 7 & 5
Siyun Liu (Wake) halved Julie McCarthy
Vanessa Knecht (Wake) def. Mychael O’ Berry, 3 &2
Follow along here for live updates:
All four matches were decided 3-2, each coming down to one head-to-head battle and a final decisive putt. Now the bracket is wide open. The top seed is gone, the top ranked team is gone and the crowd favorite is gone too.
Auburn plays Wake Forest in one semifinal Wednesday morning. Duke faces Arizona in the other. The winners play for the championship in the afternoon.
Where to begin on a day interrupted by a six-hour weather delay?
How about with Arizona, the defending national champion. Haley Moore sank the birdie putt that gave the Wildcats the title last year at Karsten Creek. She was in the pressure cooker again at The Blessings. The team’s fate against top-ranked Southern Cal came down to her match with Gabriela Ruffels.
On the final hole, with Ruffels snug for par, Moore rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to win, 1-up, setting off another celebration with her teammates on the green.
“I think the team knows I can come in the clutch so having that pressure on me is kind of fun,” said Moore, who is 4-0-0 in NCAA match play. “I knew that they were behind me no matter what.”
Momentum swung between Wake Forest and Arkansas all day. Maria Fassi, newly crowned NCAA individual champion, buoyed the Razorbacks by rallying to beat Vanessa Knecht 2 & 1. Wake’s energetic emotional leader Siyun Liu birdied the final hole to win her match, exploding with elation and setting the stage for teammate Jennifer Kupcho, the 2018 NCAA champion.
Kupcho, 3-up with four to play, was just 1-up on the final hole of her match and faced an awkward yardage for her approach shot. She stiffed it to three feet and rolled in the putt — which she needed because opponent Kaylee Benton had an even shorter birdie putt.
“Usually I’m the first one out there so being anchor was a different feeling,” Kupcho said. “I’m good under pressure so having that pressure at the end and knowing I was the match that mattered helped me relax so I could win.”
The Demon Deacons, with first-year coach Kim Lewellen and two freshmen in the lineup, earned the program’s first NCAA semifinal appearance.
“I only slept for one hour last night,” Lewellen said. “Arkansas is such a strong team with great coaches and they were on their home course. We knew we had to compete and be at the top of our game, and the ladies did that. It took everything we had to beat that squad.”
No different than the rest, Duke and Stanford traded great shots and clutch putts. They split four matches — three went the distance and the other lasted 19 holes.
Then, there was the first match out, which lasted the longest. Dormie on the 16th tee, Stanford’s Wang rallied to win three holes in a row and force sudden death. She barely missed three birdie tries during the playoff. Elena Carter, the 2016 NCAA champion, scrapped and survived until the short par-4 sixth where she laid up to her favorite yardage — 70 yards — nestled a wedge within five feet of the cup and rolled home the putt for the winning birdie.
“People love her at Duke, both on and off the course,” Duke coach Dan Brooks said. “She’s just been a great representative of the university. There were moments when she had quite the lead then she lost it, so that’s what stood out to me. But she never gave up and she kept fighting.”
Yet, Auburn might have the day’s best tale.
The Tigers barely got here. They were struggling in high winds late Monday evening when play was suspended. Given a chance to reset Tuesday morning for the final two holes of stroke play, they made the necessary pars to finish two shots ahead of Illinois.
Their reward? A matchup against Texas and its three first-team All-Americans. The Tigers quickly fell behind and were 3-down in three matches at one point in the back nine. They rallied to win two of the three. Mychael O’Berry flipped 3-down on the 14th tee against Texas freshman Sara Kouskova into 1-up on the 18th green. Auburn’s Brooke Sansom was 4-down after 11, withstood a 30-foot bomb by her opponent on the 18th green and won with par on the 20th hole.
Auburn coach Melissa Luellen described the collective comeback as “an amazing moment.”
“I just took it shot by shot,” Sansom said. “You can’t get ahead of yourself. I felt like I did that earlier in the match so I tried to remember what was important in the moment and go from there. It shows you it isn’t over until it’s over. You can’t give up, I sure didn’t.”
The golf was fun, electric and outstanding. Wake Forest’s Letizia Bagnoli aced the short 17th to square her match, only to lose when Brooke Matthews of Arkansas made birdie on the final hole.
Now to wonder what Wednesday might deliver.
2019 NCAA DI Women's Golf Championships: Schedule
Golf Channel TV schedule
- Wednesday, May 22 — Team National Championship starts at 3 p.m. ET
Maria Fassi returned to Arkansas for her senior year, determined to win a individual national championship and lead her team to the title.
She’s halfway there.
The Razorbacks’ senior fired a flawless 5-under 68 Monday afternoon in blustery conditions to win the Division I Women’s Golf individual crown. Fassi broke par in all three rounds on the Blessings Golf Club layout she’s called home for four years, closing with a bogey-free effort to finish 8-under.
“Walking down 18 was a dream,” Fassi said of the four-shot victory. “I had Shauna by my side, the team was behind the green, my mom was there watching, and everyone calling the Hogs. I get goosebumps just by thinking about it again. It was so much fun.”
The battle for the team national championship continues Tuesday. The Razorbacks and six other teams qualified for the eight-team match play bracket but the final spot won’t be decided until Tuesday morning because play was suspended due to darkness with six teams still on the course.
No. 2 Texas isn’t done but looks safe as the top seed. Duke, No. 1 Southern California, Wake Forest and defending champion Arizona will advance along with Stanford, which qualifies for match play for the fifth consecutive year. Auburn, playing holes 16-18, holds a three-shot lead over Illinois for the No. 8 seed in the bracket. The Fighting Illini completed its round Monday morning.
Fassi knew what she needed to shoot when her final round began. She was one shot behind Florida’s Sierra Brooks, who posted 4-under in the morning wave.
“I was feeling very comfortable with the way I was playing the previous two rounds and I knew I had to shoot a round in the 60s if I wanted to have a chance at the title,” Fassi said. “I was just feeling really good with my game. I've been feeling that way for two months or so. It was just like any other final round because I tried to go out there and stay aggressive.”
The lead changed hands when Fassi made three birdies on the front. She added two on the back and couldn’t recall having another bogey-free round on the demanding par-73, 6,397-yard Blessings layout.
Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor has never seen the Blessings play harder than it did Monday afternoon. Players battled swirling, gusting winds blowing 30 miles-per-hour and endured a 1 hour, 41 minute weather delay mid-round.
“I’m just so proud of Maria and what she did out there,” Taylor said. “What a fantastic round of golf in these conditions. I just can’t say enough about her as a person and as a player. What a special moment for her.”
Fassi, the No. 3 amateur in the world, won six tournaments in 2017-18 and received the Annika Award given to the nation’s best college golfer. She played poorly, however, in the 2018 NCAA Championship, opening with 81-78 and eventually tying for 66th and Razorbacks failed to reach match play.
“The drive back from Stillwater last year was no fun,” Fassi said. “I know I didn't want to feel that way again. I knew the team didn't want to feel that way ever again.”
That disappointing result and her near-miss at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April motivated Fassi to finish her career as a champion. Her combination of power, finesse and course knowledge blitzed the Blessings and the field.
Brooks, a junior at Florida, was pleased with her performance in the final round and the general state of her game. She shot a tournament-low 67 in the second round and 73 Monday.
“This is the best I’ve felt on and off the golf course,” Brooks said. “My mental game has improved with everything that I’ve gone through and I’ve learned a lot about the player that I am.”
Golf Channel coverage begins at 12 p.m. EDT Tuesday, airing the quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
Maria Fassi, Arkansas 72-71-68-211
Sierra Brooks, Florida 75-67-73-215
Bianca Pagdanganan, Arizona 69-74-74-217
Hailee Cooper, Texas 80-69-69-218
Amanda Hollandsworth, Va. Tech 75-72-72-219
Monday's play began as a continuation of the postponed action on Saturday, May 18. Instead of the initially planned 72 holes, stroke play will now be limited to just 54 holes. All 24 teams and 12 individuals in the tournament will play, and the pairings for that round will be based on the 36-hole scores. Individual medalists will be honored after the 54 holes. At this point, the field will be reduced to just the top eight teams, and these teams will start match play quarterfinals after the third round concludes.
Duke 586, Southern California 595, Texas 596, Arizona 598, Arkansas 598, Stanford 604, Purdue 606, Northwestern 607, Auburn 608, Wake Forest 608, Ole Miss 611, Arizona State 612, Florida 615, Illinois 616, Florida State 619, Virginia 621, Washington 622, UCLA 623, San Jose State 626, UCF 629, Kent State 633, Vanderbilt 635, Indiana 635, Tennessee 639.
Sierra Brooks, Florida -4
Maria Fassi, Arkansas -3
Bianca Pagdanganan, Arizona -3
Inez Wanamarta, Purdue -2
Ana Belac, Duke -1
CHAMPIONSHIP INFO: Second Round pairings
Texas 302, Arkansas 302, Stanford 304, Arizona 304, Duke 305, Southern California 306, Wake Forest 309, Arizona St. 310, Washington 311, Auburn 312, Purdue 312, Northwestern 313, Virginia 314, Ole Miss 314, UCLA 315, Vanderbilt 319, Illinois 320, Florida State 321, UCF 321, Florida 321, Indiana 322, San Jose State 324, Kent State 325, Tennessee 328
Bianca Pagdanganan, Arizona 69
Haley Moore, Arizona 72
Maria Fassi, Arkansas 72
Emilee Hoffman, Texas 72
Kaylee Benton, Arkansas 74
Albane Valenzuela, Stanford 74
Inez Wanamarta, Purdue 74
Aline Krauter, Stanford 74
Sarah Rhee, Washington 74
Amelia Garvey, Southern California 74
Letizia Bagnoli, Wake Forest 74
Alessandra Fanali, Arizona St. 74
Blessings GC, home course for the Arkansas men’s and women’s golf teams, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 2004. Kyle Phillips redesigned the course in 2016 and made it an easier walk, trimming 1.8 miles from the scenic, demanding layout.
REGIONAL COMPETITION: Final scores and advancing teams
Golf Channel is providing 15 hours of live TV coverage. Also, return to NCAA.com for daily recaps and live updates throughout the tournament.
2019 NCAA DI Women's Golf Championships: Regionals
Regional competition took place at four sites: The Auburn regional at Saugahatchee Country Club in Opelika, Alabama; Cle Elum regional at the Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum, Washington; East Lansing regional at the Forest Akers West Golf Course in East Lansing, Michigan; and the Norman regional at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Oklahoma. Below are the final scores and advancing participants from 2019 regionals.
|Regional||ADVANCING SCHOOLS||Advancing individuals||Scoring|
|Auburn regional||Vanderbilt, Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Auburn, Tennessee||Linette Holmslykke (Murray State), Virunpat Olankitkunchai (Maryland), Angelica Moresco (Alabama)||Final scores|
|Cle Elum regional||USC, Washington, Northwestern, Arkansas, San Jose State, UCF||Kathleen Scavo (Oregon), Aneka Seumanutafa (Ohio State), Ellie Slama (Oregon State)||Final scores|
|East Lansing regional||Kent State, Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Illinois, Indiana||Haylin Harris (Michigan State), Mikayla Fitzpatrick (Xavier), Allyson Geer-Park (Michigan State)||Final scores|
|Norman regional||Texas, Florida, Wake Forest, Purdue, Arizona State, Ole Miss||Kaitlin Milligan (Oklahoma), Michaela Fletcher (Memphis), Amanda Hollandsworth (Virginia Tech)||Final scores|
For the full list of regional qualifiers, click here.
Pac-12 conference schools have won the last four national championships. No. 4 Arizona is the defending champion, Arizona State won in 2017, Washington won an all-Pac 12 final in 2016 and Stanford claimed the title in 2015. Each team advanced to Fayetteville this year. The 2018 title was Arizona's third NCAA Division I women's golf national Championship, the first since 2000. The Wildcats took home the title after defeating Alabama 3-2-0 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Duke has won six national titles under coach Dan Brooks and was the last non-Pac 12 team to win, defeating USC by two shots in 2014. The championship format switched to match play the next year and the Pac-12’s dominance began.
|YEAR||CHAMPION||COACH||SCORE^||RUNNER-UP||SCORE||HOST OR SITE|
|2018||Arizona||Laura Ianello||3-2||Alabama||Stillwater, Okla.|
|2017||Arizona State||Missy Farr-Kaye||3-1-1||Northwestern||Sugar Grove, Ill.|
|2016||Washington||Mary Lou Mulflur||3-2||Stanford||Eugene, Ore.|
|2015||Stanford||Anne Walker||3-2||Baylor||Bradenton, Fla.|
|2014||Duke||Dan Brooks||1,130||Southern California||1,132||Tulsa, Okla.|
|2013||Southern California||Andrea Gaston||1,133||Duke||1,154||Georgia|
|2011||UCLA||Carrie Forsyth||1,173||Purdue||1,177||Texas A&M|
|2010||Purdue||Devon Brouse||1,153||Southern California||1,154||Wilmington, N.C.|
|2009||Arizona State||Melissa Luellen||1,182||UCLA||1,190||Owings Mills, Md.|
|2008||Southern California||Andrea Gaston||1,168||UCLA||1,174||New Mexico|
|2007||Duke||Dan Brooks||1,170||Purdue||1,185||Daytona Beach, Fla.|
|2006||Duke||Dan Brooks||1,167||Southern California||1,177||Ohio State|
|2005||Duke||Dan Brooks||1,170||UCLA||1,175||Oregon State|
|2004||UCLA||Carrie Forsyth||1,148||Oklahoma State||1,151||Auburn|
|2003||Southern California||Andrea Gaston||1,197||Pepperdine||1,213||Purdue|
|2002||Duke||Dan Brooks||1,164||Arizona, Auburn, Texas||1,170||Washington|
|2000||Arizona||Todd McCorkle||1,175||Stanford||1,196||Oregon State|
|1999||$Duke||Dan Brooks||895||Arizona State/Georgia||903||Tulsa|
|1998||Arizona State||Linda Vollstedt||1,155||Florida||1,173||Wisconsin|
|1997||Arizona State||Linda Vollstedt||1,178||San Jose State||1,180||Ohio State|
|1996||*Arizona||Rick LaRose||1,240||San Jose State||1,240||UCLA|
|1995||Arizona State||Linda Vollstedt||1,155||San Jose State||1,181||UNC-Wilmington|
|1994||Arizona State||Linda Vollstedt||1,189||Southern California||1,205||Oregon State|
|1993||Arizona State||Linda Vollstedt||1,187||Texas||1,189||Georgia|
|1992||San Jose State||Mark Gale||1,171||Arizona||1,175||Arizona State|
|1991||*UCLA||Jackie Steinmann||1,197||San Jose State||1,197||Ohio State|
|1990||Arizona State||Linda Vollstedt||1,206||UCLA||1,222||South Carolina|
|1989||San Jose State||Mark Gale||1,208||Tulsa||1,209||Stanford|
|1988||#Tulsa||Dale McNamara||1,175||Georgia/Arizona State||1,182||New Mexico State|
|1987||San Jose State||Mark Gale||1,187||Furman||1,188||New Mexico|
|1986||Florida||Mimi Ryan||1,180||Miamia (Fla.)||1,188||Ohio State|
|1984||Miami (Fla.)||Lela Cannon||1,214||Arizona State||1,221||Georgia|
*Won in sudden death
$Fourth Round canceled due to rain
#Tulsa's participation in 1988 championships vacated
^Format switched to match play in 2015 season