Playing a tight match winding toward the finish, Brianna Navarrosa looked across the green to see the ball of the world’s top-ranked amateur close to the hole.
The Southern California junior kept her composure, as she had all day, confidently stroked her longer putt and watched it drop before Rose Zhang had a chance to make her birdie.
With a closing par, Navarrosa finished off Zhang and clinched USC’s 3-1 win over reigning champion Stanford in the NCAA women’s golf semifinals on Tuesday.
“I didn’t know how important it would be, especially going into 17, but I knew I had to make it,” Navarrosa said. “Standing over it, I was like, this is going in the hole.”
Wake Forest beat Texas A&M 3-0 in the other semifinal to earn its second trip to the national final.
Zhang capped off one of the greatest runs in NCAA history on Monday, becoming the first woman to win multiple national championships in golf with her second straight individual title. The sophomore who turns 20 on Wednesday matched former Arizona golfer and LPGA Hall of Famer Lorena Ochoa’s records of eight wins in a season and 12 for her career.
Zhang also won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.
Zhang dominated her morning quarterfinal match, but was off-kilter most of the afternoon.
“I think everything just caught up to me,” Zhang said. “Nothing was going well and it felt like everything was kind of a blur.”
USC moved ahead when Christine Wang beat Brooke Seay 2 and 1 and Cindy Kou beat Stanford’s Megha Ganne by the same score. Freshman Kelly Xu got Stanford on the board with a 2-and-1 win over national co-runner-up Catherine Park.
With Stanford’s Sadie Englemann 2 up through 16 holes against Amari Avery, the Cardinal needed Zhang to rally from a 2-down deficit over the final four holes at Grayhawk Golf Club.
Navarrosa didn’t give the individual champion a chance, closing out her 2-and-1 victory with a par on 17.
“I’ve never been that stressed out on a golf course,” USC coach Justin Silverstein said. “But we pulled it off.”
Stanford beat Pepperdine 3-1 in the quarterfinals Tuesday morning and Southern California beat South Carolina by the same score.
Zhang led off Stanford’s quarterfinal matches with a 6-and-5 win over Reese Guzman.
But in the afternoon anchor match, Zhang lost the opening hole with a double bogey and was 3 down at the turn after hitting into a fairway bunker. Zhang sank a long birdie putt on No. 14 to get within 2 down, but Navarrosa matched her down the stretch to send the Demon Deacons to the title match.
Wake Forest, the national runner-up in 2019, won a school-record five tournaments this season and beat Florida State 3-1 in the morning quarterfinals.
Emilia Migliaccio holed out for eagle on the par-4 sixth on her way to beating Texas A&M’s Zoe Slaughter 2 and 1 in the afternoon’s first match.
Rachel Kuehn, the two-time ACC player of the year, beat Texas A&M’s Hailee Cooper 4 and 2.
Mimi Rhodes took a 1-up lead on Blanca Fernandez Garcia-Poggio with a par on the par-3 13th and they traded pars over the next four holes. Rhodes clinched Wake Forest’s spot in the title match after Garcia-Poggio hit into a greenside bunker and missed a short birdie putt on the par-5 18th.
“She was getting up and down from a lot of places and coach said we needed the last match,” Rhodes said. “I just thought I needed to push, do something on the last hole and hopefully it’s all over.”
Source : ESPN