I was there when Aurora Kan’s high school career ended at
the Heritage Hills Golf Resort with a 12-foot birdie putt for par on the second
hole of a playoff with West Chester East’s Gabriella DiMarco that gave the
Chichester senior the 2010 PIAA championship she had been so close to getting
the two previous years.
I almost felt like I was there Monday as Kan’s collegiate
career ended at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. with Purdue coming
up a little short of making the final eight that will tee it up in match play
Tuesday for the NCAA championship. The Boilermakers had their worse day of the
tournament, carding a final-round 311 that gave them a 72-hole total of 1,222.
That left them in 12th place, eight shots out of the coveted top
But there was never anything close to a concession by Kan
and Purdue on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Kan was the only senior on the five-woman
team that Devon Brouse sent to the NCAA Tournament and some of the youngsters
might have finally hit the wall in the fourth round of stroke play Monday.
Purdue’s first three rounds of 307, 302 and 303 had put it
squarely in contention to finish in the top eight. Monday’s broadcast on The
Golf Channel seemed to indicate that the weather and the course setup had The
Concession layout playing its toughest
in the first three rounds, particularly the first and second rounds.
But with the scores generally lower in the final round,
Purdue couldn’t sustain its momentum. The Boilermakers went 17-over on the front
nine. The made just six birdies in the round, four of them by Marta Martin, the
freshman from Spain who carded a final-round 76 and was Purdue’s low scorer at
13-over 301. That left her in a tie for 25th.
Linn Andersson, a freshman from Sweden, fell back in the
final round with an 80 after she had posted a solid 1-over 73 in Sunday’s third
round, a big reason Purdue had easily survived the first team cut from 24 teams
to 15 for Monday’s final round. Andersson’s 305 total left her in a tie for 40th.
Kan capped her career with a 79 – and I think I know her
well enough to know she’s not happy about it – Monday for a 72-hole total of
307 and in a tie for 45th.
August Kim, the sophomore from St. Augustine, Fla., also had
a final-round 79 to finish at 314 and in a tie for 61st. Anna Appert
Lund, a junior from Sweden, had Purdue’s second-best score of the day Monday, a
77, and finished in a tie for 63rd at 315.
Purdue finished 30 shots back of the team qualifying
medalist, Southern Cal, which went 297, 303, 398 and 294 for a 1,192 total.
Defending national champion Duke, winner of the South Bend regional Purdue was
in was five shots at 1,197.
So maybe Purdue was a notch below those teams, but match
play is a whole different animal and I’m certain the Boilermakers would have
backed down from nobody in match play.
Did catch the brilliant approach shot out of a fairway
bunker on the 18th hole by Alabama’s Emma Talley that gave her the
individual title. The daily weather delay in Bradenton forced Talley to wait an
hour to make her 10-foot birdie putt, but she got it done to add an NCAA
individual crown to the U.S. Women’s Amateur title she won two years ago at the
Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina.
Talley’s effort was not good enough to get the Tide into the
final eight for match play. Alabama finished four shots behind Purdue in 14th
place at 1,226.
Also missing the cut was Wake Forest, which finished between
Purdue and Alabama in 13th place at 1,224. Wake Forest freshman
Erica Herr, who won the next two PIAA crowns following Kan’s 2010 title while
at Council Rock North, struggled at the tough Concession layout with rounds of
82, 81, 81 and 82 to finish in a tie for 108th. That will only make
her more determined to get better.
Kan had quite a four years at Purdue, which was coming off
an NCAA championship in 2010 and a runnerup finish in nationals in 2011 when
she arrived in the fall of 2011. She was the freshman then as a very good Purdue
team finished ninth.
Kan’s high-water mark was probably her sophomore season when
the Boilermakers finished third at the NCAA Tournament and she finished tied
for 15th in the individual standings.
But something tells me she might be most proud of this team.
Coming off a disappointing season in which the Boilermakers failed to qualify
for the NCAA Tournament as a team, Kan helped to restore Purdue to its rightful
spot among the top programs in the country.
Overlooked by pollsters all season, probably because of its
relative youth, there was Purdue on the last day of stroke play with a real
shot at making the field of eight for match play as the NCAA opted for match
play to determine the women’s champion for the first time.
They’re disappointed because they were right there with 18
holes to go and it slipped away. But to finish 12th after never
cracking the top 30 in anybody’s rankings all season isn’t bad. The other four
Purdue players who were in Bradenton will all be back next year with a valuable
year of experience behind them.
When the Boilermakers improve next year, Kan can take pride
in knowing she played a role in helping some of those youngsters grow a little