Vaughn rallies to win NCAA women's golf title
SUGAR GROVE, Ill. (AP) Monica Vaughn didn't know the score, and she might not have believed how the final hour unfolded Monday that enabled the Arizona State senior to capture the NCAA women's golf title.
In a stunning turnaround at Rich Harvest Farms, Vaughn made up a four-shot deficit with four holes to play with two birdies and a lot of help from Wake Forest sophomore Jennifer Kupcho, who led the entire final round until a triple bogey on the 17th hole.
''It's a great way to go out my senior year,'' Vaughn said after closing with a 1-under 71 for a one-shot victory. She became the sixth Sun Devil to win a women's individual golf title, and the first since Azahara Munoz in 2008.
It was a devastating finish for Kupcho.
Three months ago, Kupcho suffered a concussion when a spectator got tangled up with her pull cart as she was being driven to a green, causing her to fall and bang her head against the concrete path.
On Monday, she was on her way to becoming the first Wake Forest female to win the NCAA title. She was three shots ahead when she teed off on the par-4 17th until Vaughn, finishing on the front nine at Rich Harvest Farms, rolled in her second straight birdie from 15 feet on No. 7.
Kupcho posed over her 9-iron until it came up a few yards short of the green, bounced off the slope and back into the water. She had to drop from the fairway, hit the next shot to about 30 feet and three-putted for a triple bogey. Just like that, Kupcho was one shot behind.
''I thought I hit it perfect,'' Kupcho said. ''It looked so good.''
She hit her tee shot on the reachable par-5 18th just inside a hazard line, forcing her to lay up, and she had to scramble for par and a 2-over 74. Kupcho tied for second with Leona Maguire, the Irish Olympian at Duke and the world's No. 1 female amateur.
Host school Northwestern led eight teams that advanced to match play, which will decide the team title the next two days on the course where the 2009 Solheim Cup was played. Northwestern, which finished eight shots ahead of Stanford, faces Kent State in the opening round.
Kent State nearly avoided a collapse of its own, only to pull through behind another player who didn't know the score.
Wad Phaewchimplee finished bogey-bogey for a 76. Then, Michaela Finn was below the green on the 17th and took two chips to get on the green for her double bogey. Finn had to save par from a bunker on the 18th, and she holed a 5-foot putt for a bunker save.
Kent State was the No. 8 team, finishing 54 holes in the rain-shortened event at 55-over par. That was one shot better than North Carolina.
Coach Greg Robertson said he didn't want Finn to know where she stood because of so many variables, and Finn looked cool as can be when she rolled in her par putt.
''I just wanted her to take care of her game,'' Robertson said. ''She didn't know where she stood with the bunker shot or the putt. We just let her play.''
The other teams to advance were Stanford, Arizona State, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Florida and Baylor. The quarterfinals and semifinals are Tuesday, with the championship match on Wednesday.