Stanford takes step toward another finals at NCAA
SUGAR GROVE, Ill. (AP) Swiss freshman Albane Valenzuela had Stanford on the cusp of a third straight NCAA Women's Golf Championship title match.
Valenzuela won three of her last four holes to lead the Cardinal to a 3-2 victory over Baylor in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals against Arizona State, she rallied from 2 down against NCAA champion Monica Vaughn and took a 1-up lead to the final hole at Rich Harvest Farms.
Because of the rain delay, the semifinals were halted by darkness and were to resume Wednesday morning. Valenzuela and Vaughn were in the fairway on the par-5 18th when Vaughn did not want to continue because she couldn't see clearly enough to play the shot.
The anchor match between Madeline Chou of Stanford and Linnea Strom of Arizona State was all square through 16 holes.
In the other semifinal match, Southern California was leading in four of the five matches against host school and top-seeded Northwestern, though all the matches were far from being decided.
Stanford won the NCAA title in 2015 the first year the format moved to team match play. Washington beat Stanford in the championship match last year.
This Cardinal team features three freshmen, including one who is no stranger to a big stage. Valenzuela represented Switzerland in the Olympics last summer in Rio and tied for 21st.
Valenzuela was 1 down against Dylan Kim of Baylor with five holes to go when she won the 14th to square the match, took the lead on the 16th and closed out the match on the 17th when Kim hit her second shot into the water and made double bogey.
Vaughn won the NCAA individual title on Monday, the sixth for the Arizona State women's golf team, and she led the Sun Devils to a 5-0 victory over Florida in the quarterfinals. Vaughn was sluggish in the morning until winning four straight holes around the turn to seize control.
She won the opening two holes against Valenzuela and was in control of the match until the rain delay, and Valenzuela rallied to take a 1-up lead. Vaughn needed to win the hole to extend the match in the morning and preserve the Sun Devils' chances.
Northwestern overcame a rugged start in the quarterfinals to beat Kent State. The other quarterfinal match was the tighest, with Southern California outlasting Ohio State. The bottom three matches all went the distance.
Robynn Ree lagged her 45-foot birdie putt up a ridge to tap-in range for a 1-up victory over Rio Watanabe of Ohio State, while Tiffany Chan took a 1-up lead on the 17th hole and held on for a 1-up victory over the Buckeyes' Katja Pogacar. Gabriella Then of Southern California was through 19 holes of her match with Jaclyn Lee when it was declared a draw because the Trojans won their third match.
Southern California has reached the match play all three years of this format, though it has never reached the championship match.
Muni He was 2 up over Kacie Komoto of Northwestern through 13 holes. The other Trojan leads were all 1 up, while Sarah Cho had a 1-up lead through 15 holes in the lone match in which Northwestern was ahead.