The heavyweights of Division I women’s golf had a little reunion for the ANNIKA Intercollegiate, presented by 3M at the Reunion Resort’s Watson Course in Reunion, Fla.
When the smoke cleared from all the birdies Tuesday, Southern California, No. 2 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had wiped out a 13-shot deficit to overcome No. 12 Arkansas and its crosstown rival, No. 1 UCLA, to claim the team title.
Many of the players who filled out the match-play bracket at the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club this summer were in the field and school records were falling left and right.
But the deep and talented Trojans prevailed with a final round of 12-under 276 for a 24-under 840 total over the 6,257-yard, par-72 Watson Course.
Arkansas had a brilliant middle round of 18-under 270, but fell back a little with a final-round 289 to claim runnerup honors at 22-undere 842. UCLA had surged to a 13-shot lead over the field by going 279 and 272 in the first two rounds. But the Bruins were unable to hold off their Pac-12 rival as they cooled off with a final-round 293. Still, they finished third in this elite field at 20-under 844.
In a field that will likely produce several of the eight match-play contestants when the NCAA title is decided next spring, No. 13 Georgia finished fourth at 19-under 845 – a school record relative to par for the Bulldogs by five shots – No. 7 Florida was fifth at 16-under 848, No. 15 South Carolina was sixth at 15-under 849 and No. 4 Duke was seventh at 7-under 257.
USC was led by Victoria Morgan, a redshirt senior from Pasadena, Calif. who finished in a tie for eighth in the individual standings at 7-under 209.
But the Trojans’ final-round surge was led by Robynn Ree, a sophomore from Redondo Beach, Calif. who had a 67, and Karen Chung, a senior from Livingston, N.J. who fired a 68. Morgan posted a 2-under 70.
Ree’s final round enabled her to finish in a tie for 17th at 4-under 212 and she was joined in that group by teammates Tiffany Chan, a senior from Hong Kong, and Gabriella Then, a senior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Chan, who opened with a 67, had a final-round 73 and Then had a final-round 71. Chung’s 68 enabled her to finish 25th at 2-under 214.
The individual title went to Arkansas’ Maria Fassi, a sophomore from Mexico who reached the second round at Rolling Green this summer. After an opening-round 71, Fassi blitzed the Watson Course with rounds of 66 and 68 for an 11-under 205 total.
And Fassi still only finished a shot ahead of UCLA’s Lilia Vu, a sophomore from Fountain Valley, Calif. who finished at 10-under 206. Vu opened with rounds of 66 and 67 before cooling off with a final-round 73.
The No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Duke’s Leona Maguire, a junior from Ireland, finished in a tie for third at 9-under 207. Maguire had kind of a busy summer, helping Great Britain & Ireland to a victory over the U.S. in the Curtis Cup Match, taking low amateur honors in the Ricoh Women’s British Open and representing Ireland in both the Rio Olympics and the World Amateur Team Championship. Ireland claimed a bronze medal at the World Amateur Team Championship.
Also at 9-under 207 were Georgia’s Becky Tardy, a sophomore from Peachtree Corners, Ga., and Arizona’s Haley Moore, a sophomore from Escondido, Calif. Tardy, a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team, cooled off in the final round with a 74 after going 67-66 in the first two rounds. Moore had a 5-under 67 in the final round.
South Carolina’s Katelyn Dambaugh, a senior from Goose Creek, S.C., finished in a tie for sixth at 8-under 208 after opening with a sizzling 8-under 64 in the first round. She was joined at that figure by Florida’s Maria Torres, a senior from Puerto Rico who had a final-round 69. Dambaugh, who represented the United States at the World Amateur Team Championship in Riviera Maya, Mexico, reached the round of 16 and Fassi fell in the second round at Rolling Green this summer.
Southern Cal’s Morgan was joined in the tie for eighth at 7-under 209 by Arkansas’ Alana Uriell, a junior from Carlsbad, Calif. who had a final-round 71, and Arizona State’s Linnea Strom, a sophomore from Sweden, who opened the tournament with a 6-under 66 in the first round.
To illustrate the quality of the field – and there are any number of stars I could point out – Duke’s Virginia Elena Carta, a sophomore from Italy who was the runaway NCAA individual champion last spring and the runnerup to South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong in a thrilling 36-hole final in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green, finished in a tie for 14th at 5-under 211.