The No. 2 ranked UCLA women's golf team battled through tough weather conditions all week and brought home UCLA's third NCAA title in women's golf.
The title is Head Coach Carrie Forsyth's second National Championship as UCLA head coach as she also won back in 2004. This is also her 40th tournament victory as the Bruins' head coach.
"This was huge for us," Forsyth said. "I'm just really proud. We had some struggles on the front nine and we just kept telling ourselves that our rounds were kind of the same. We just made more birdies in the other rounds and we weren't making any birdies. Then things started to go when Stephanie got it back to one-over. Then Lee got one and we just started making some birdies and it just sort of turned the tide a little bit. But it was still really close."
The Bruins won by four strokes after posting a final round score of 295 (+7), giving them a total of 1,173 (+21). They had to hold off a late charge by the Purdue Boilermakers, who posted a final round 292 (+4) to give them an overall score of 1,177 (+25). The Bruins were also helped out by a disqualification by a Purdue golfer after she signed an incorrect scorecard.
"It was very unfortunate what happened with (the Purdue golfer)," remarked Forsyth. "I know at the end of the day it didn't make the difference but you don't want that to happen."
LSU finished in third at 1,181 (+29) while Virginia finished in fourth at 1,186 (+34). Arkansas and USC tied for fifth with a score of 1,190 (+38).
When asked about how this compared to her first NCAA title back in 2004, Coach Forsyth said, "The first time is amazing, but after the first time you wonder if you can ever do it again. It's different, but it's just as awesome as the first time."
UCLA got a stellar effort from all five players today as each member of the team came up with big plays down the stretch. Purdue had taken over the lead from the Bruins after the 11th hole and things started to get tense before the Bruins took over on the back nine.
"The back nine for me was a little bit of a blur," sophomore Tiffany Lua said. "But I can say this for everyone, all we try to do is play one shot at a time and try to hit fairways and greens. We just fought for every shot out there."
On the 16th hole, sophomore Lee Lopez saved par after hitting her tee shot into the bunker, thus preserving the Bruins' lead. Junior Stephanie Kono also hit a 10 foot par putt on the 17th hole after hitting her second shot into the bunker as well, which at the time gave UCLA a one stroke lead. Kono also increased the lead after hitting a huge birdie putt on the 18th hole. Freshman Ani Gulugian was key down the stretch as well as she recorded five straight pars in her final five holes and posted the best score of the day for the Bruins at even par. Senior Glory Yang's score ended up being the dropped score for the Bruins, but she birdied the 18th hole to help give the rest of her teammates some leeway as they finished down the stretch. Finally, Tiffany Lua was solid all day and had the lowest score of the tournament for the Bruins at -1.
"Overall the atmosphere this week has been good," Tiffany remarked. "It's been light and it's been fun. We play for these positions. We want to be in contention. We want to be in the lead. We were nervous but at the same time we were really excited and were just pumped up for today."
Individually, Lua shot a final round 75 (+3) to finish tied for 4th place at 287 (-1). Glory Yang posted a final round 76 (+4) to finish in a tie for 43rd place at 300 (+12). Junior Stephanie Kono recorded a 74 (+2) for her day to finish tied for 32nd place at 298 (+10). Sophomore Lee Lopez finished the tournament in a tie for 26th at 297 (+9) after she recorded a 74 (+2) for her round. Finally, freshman Ani Gulugian shot a final round 72 (E) and finished tied for 65th place at 305 (+17).
Austin Ernst of LSU was the individual champion after posting an overall score of 281 (-7).
Lua had this final thought as the Bruins were crowned National Champions. "This means a lot to me. At the beginning of the year we set our goals and obviously you want to be a national champion. Just thinking about all those extra workouts, all those extra practices, and all those things you were dreading to get through but you did as a team, you just look back and it makes you think that it was all worth it."
For complete results from the NCAA Championship, click here.
Courtesy of www.uclabruins.com.