When Duke’s Virginia Elena Carta, a freshman from Italy, built a six-shot heading into the final round in the chase for the NCAA Division I individual championship at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., the title was hers to lose.
And she did not lose it. Carta fired a final round of 3-under 69 over the 6.331-yard, par-72 Eugene Country Club layout Monday to cruise to an eight-shot victory with a 16-under 272 total. The 16-under total is a 72-hole tournament record by four shots. Carta is Duke’s fourth NCAA individual champion.
Two other freshmen, Miami’s Dewi Weber of the Netherlands and Arizona’s Haley Moore of Escondido, Calif. finished tied for second at 8-under 280. Weber had a final-round 72 while Moore, who opened the tournament with a 68, got a bookend 4-under 68 in the final round.
Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight, a freshman from Aledo, Texas, and Tennessee’s Anna Newell, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla., finished tied for fourth at 6-under 282. Knight closed with a 2-over 73 while Newell had a 1-under 71.
Three players finished in a tie for sixth at 5-under 283. They were Stanford’s Casey Danielson, a junior from Osceola, Wis., UCLA’s Lilia Vu, a freshman from Fountain Valley, Calif., and Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho, a freshman from Littleton, Colo. Danielson went 4-under with a 68 and Vu did her one better with a 5-under 67 in the final round while Kupcho finished up an outstanding postseason with a 2-over 74.
Purdue’s August Kim, a junior from St. Augustine, Fla., struggled in the final round with a 3-over 75 to finish tied for 32nd at 3-over 291.
Vu’s strong final round propelled UCLA, ranked No. 3 in the latest Golfstat rankings, to the top of heap in the team standings as the Bruins earned the top seed in match play, which gets under way Tuesday. UCLA had a final round of 6-under 282 for a 72-hole total of 8-under 1,144.
Rounding out the UCLA contingent, Bronte Law, a junior from England and the top-ranked individual player in Division I by Golfstat, had a final-round 72 to finish ninth at 4-under 284, Louise Ridderstrom, a senior from Sweden, had a final-round 72 to finish tied for 11th at 1-under 287, Bethany Wu, a freshman from Diamond Bar, Calif., had a final-round 71 to finish tied for 27th at 2-over 290 and Hadas Libman, a junior from Israel, had a final-round 76 to finish tied for 79th at 309.
UCLA led a strong showing for the Pac-12 as the conference swept the top four spots. Defending champion Stanford, ranked 12th, finished second at 5-under 1,147, No. 2 Southern California finished third at 2-under 1,150 and No. 13 Washington finished fourth at even-par 1,152. Stanford had the day’s best round, a sparkling 9-under 279.
Rounding out the eight match-play qualifiers are: No. 15 Virginia, the ACC champion; Carta and No. 5 Duke; No. 18 South Carolina; and host Oregon, ranked 20th and the fifth Pac-12 team still standing.
The host Ducks held on with a final-round 296 that gave them a 14-over 1,166 total. Finishing one frustrating shot out of eighth were both Big Ten co-champion Northwestern, ranked seventh, and No. 10 Arizona. Big 12 champion Oklahoma State, ranked eighth, was another shot back in 11th place.
Top-ranked Alabama dug too deep a hole for itself and finished tied for 12th at 1,173.
Oregon’s reward for getting in is a quarterfinal match against UCLA. Stanford will take on South Carolina, there’s a powerhouse top-5 matchup between Southern Cal and Duke and Washington takes on Virginia.
The quarterfinal winners will come right back out for the semifinals Tuesday afternoon. The championship match is scheduled for Wednesday.