Stanford women’s golf defies history to claim second NCAA title

It was dominant, then it was tight, then it was over: Stanford is the winner of the NCAA DI Women’s Golf Championship.

The NCAA tournament started with 72 teams, with the Cardinal eventually emerging victorious, 3-2, Wednesday at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., despite a brave effort by the Oregon Ducks.

It’s not necessarily a surprising result, given that Stanford is the highest-ranked team in the country, but as the first seed after stroke play, there has been superstitious talk that the 1 seed has never won the national championship. title since the start of the match play team finals in 2015.

Finally, things came together for the Cardinal to win their second national title as a program.

“For all future No. 1 seeds, you’re welcome, because this question was getting boring,” Stanford head coach Anne Walker said. “We’ve had a lot of success, but it’s been really hard to come to this, and this group – the energy, the camaraderie, all year – they never took the lead and looked forward. They just stayed one day at a time.

Oregon was never able to take control of the competition, which consisted of five games.

Brooke Seay led the Cardinal in a game against Ching-Tzu Chen of the Ducks. Tied by three, Chen doubled fourth par-5, giving up the first by two straight runs. Seay managed to catch 3 when she landed a clutch putt for a birdie on the No. 7, taking control of the game. At one point, the junior had 5 points, and although Chen was able to recover one with a birdie at the par-3 13th, she ultimately had to concede at the 15th. Final score: 4 and 3 – Stanford leads 1-0.

Stanford senior executive Aline Krauter took on Oregon’s Taiwanese star Cynthia Lu in what would become the Cardinal’s most imposing match of the day. Halfway through, Krauter had 6 points. Lu also conceded on the 15th hole. Final score: 5 and 3 – Stanford leads 2-0.

Oregon has started to relax in the middle games, showing some insight into why it’s the No. 2 team in the nation and the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

2021 NCAA Individual Champion Rachel Heck faced Heather Lin in a close match through the front nine before Lin retired to go up 3 of the back nine. Heck came close to hole-in-one on the par-3 13th, but the putt fizzled. On the next par-3 at 16, Lin hit the ball perfectly, landing it a short putt and winning the point for Oregon at 2. Final score: 3 and 2 – Stanford leads 2-1.

Duck’s Briana Chacon managed to beat Sadie Englemann after a long match that had the two tied six times. It ended on the par-5 18th, where Englemann missed his long putt for a birdie, opening the door for Chacon to birdie and win Game 1.

So it’s 2-2.

The winning run went to 2022 individual champion Rose Zhang and Oregon’s Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen. While Zhang got off to a good start, coming up 3 on the third hole, Nielsen nibbled the back nine. The Ducks needed to win the par-4 17th to have a shot at the title, but disaster struck when Nielsen accidentally crushed Zhang’s ball, resulting in a one-stroke penalty. Zhang took advantage of the open gate, easily posting par and winning the title with it.

After a day of real ups and downs, Stanford emerged victorious in a fair but certainly unique circumstance.

The rules for rolling an opponent’s ball are different in stroke play and match play, with the former not penalizing players, and although Zhang ultimately did not need the extra putt to secure victory, the mistake gave way to heightened emotions on the part of the Oregon players and coaches.

“We started off a little tentative today,” Oregon head coach Derek Radley said. “I think the timing might have caught up with us a bit, but man, did they fight in the end.”

There are plenty of silver linings for the Ducks. Despite the loss, it was the team’s best result in program history, and next season the team will return four of its five starters.

As for Stanford senior Krauter, it was announced on College Central that Walker had selected the German athlete to receive a bye to play at the Dana Open in late August, which would be his first start on the LPGA Tour. She will be joined by Zhang, who also received an exemption.

“It really means the world,” Krauter said in tears when she heard the news. “Stanford made me who I am today, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m so grateful for this team. It’s been a long journey this year, but we’ve done it so well.