Rose Zhang, Wake Forest win NCAA titles — Summer golf preview — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, May 25, 2023
Happy Golf Thursday and (almost) Memorial Day weekend, friends! Summer golf has arrived and once the misquitos start biting, the golf bug is soon to follow. Every year, the NCAA DI men and women’s championships kickstart prime-time golf season — and this year’s women’s tournament threw us for a loop! My predictions from last week were all shook up and honestly I’ve never been happier to be wrong. Let’s break down all the drama from the desert over the last 6 days.
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I think the only thing correctly predicted was the GOAT aka Rose Zhang repeating the individual title. In doing so, Zhang has solidified herself as the greatest collegiate golfer ever; she has more wins in less events than Tiger Woods (a famous Stanford golf alum) and she set the record for the best scoring average in a season at 4-under par (68.81 to be exact).
At this point, Zhang’s list of accomplishments is practically a phone book, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Every time she talks to the media, or we see her interacting with her teammates, we’re reminded of how incredibly humble she is. After Stanford’s shocking semifinals defeat to USC, you can see the emotion in her eyes and hear the adoration she has for her team and coaching staff; she sings their praises and they give it right back.
It’s unclear at this point what Zhang will do after this. It’s evident that she loves her team and it seems like unfinsihed buisness after falling short — but is that enough to keep her in Palo Alto, or will she announce her decision to turn pro? I think it’s important to note the friendship between Zhang and junior Rachel Heck, who made her return to the lineup after being sidelined with a shoulder injury since February. The two are tight-knit and always cheering one another on, and since they have yet to play a full season with each other, I think it’s reason enough for Zhang to want to stay. But only one person knows the answer to this, and I’m interested to see how the summer pans out to see what the final decision is.
Before we dive into USC vs. Wake Forest, I want to briefly mention the other teams I was shocked to see miss the team match-play rounds and who did.
LSU not making the top eight was surprising to me, even though I correctly predicted them not making it. The team is led by Ingrid Lindblad and Latanna Stone, both of which have played tremendous golf all season long. Lindblad finished T-5, at 7-under for four rounds. Stone had back-to-back tough days in rounds three and four, posting 77-75 to land T-45. To place things into perspective, Stanford out-scored LSU by 34 strokes. Lindblad was the only Tiger to shoot under-par, meanwhile only one Stanford player shot over-par.
Another team that I had on my watch list was Mississippi State, led by Julia Lopez Ramirez. Lopez Ramirez was on a roll for much of the playoffs, and she didn’t play badly at all, it just wasn’t enough to get the job done and securing a spot in the top eight.
Two teams that snuck their way into the match-play rounds were Florida State and Pepperdine. Neither team had made a ton of noise leading up to the natty, despite FSU being ranked inside the top-10 and Pepperdine hanging in close at the 12 spot. What’s so fascinating is that the level of play is so elite, that the stats are literally decimals apart. At any moment, it can be anyone’s game which leads us to the final match up between USC and Wake Forest.
All year long, it had been a two-team race between Stanford and Wake Forest. The top two ranked teams have a combined total of 13 wins on the season — so who else but them could compete for the title? USC, the conference rival of Stanford had something to prove. It was a tight showdown, but junior Brianna Navarrosa took down two-time NCAA individual champ Rose Zhang for the deciding point in a 3-2 win.
Both Wake and USC have struggled on the punishing desert layout in the past, the Trojans missing the 54-hole cut two years ago and the Demon Deacons doing the same last year — it’s not what we saw coming, but something worth celebrating no less.
After defeating the top-ranked college player, Navarrosa continued her roll and was throwing darts early on.
But the Demon Deacs were absolutely dialed in.
Seniors Rachel Kuehn and Lauren Walsh played will all out offensive tenacity and it paid off. Wake defeated USC 3-1 for their first national title in program history.
It was yet another incredible college season in the books, and I’m sure we’ll being seeing these players qualify for some LPGA events and the US Women’s Am. Head to Five at The IX for my picks of the best summer tournaments to tune in to — see you next week!
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This week in women’s golf
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Five at The IX: Summer golf tournaments to circle on your calendar
This inagural event hosted by Michelle Wie West is not only held at the stunning Liberty National in Jersey City, but it will also feature junior golfers front and center with 120 of the best players in the world.
This will be the first time Liberty National is hosting an LPGA event, and the prize it set to $2.75 million, one of the largest non-Major Championship purses on the LPGA Tour calendar for the 2023 season.
Also just look at the views!
The Women’s PGA championship is just 3 weeks after Mizuho and features another iconic venue at Baltusrol Golf Club. The course will be playing over 6800 yards, and it will be TOUGH. It’ll be interesting to see the world’s best struggle a bit especially right before the US Open.
The very next week after the PGA is the US Open at Pebble. I don’t need too many words to explain why this is a must-see event.
The amatuers are going to Hollywood! From Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise, Bel-Air CC has got the celebs. The Women’s AM is the third oldest USGA championship and the U.S. Women’s Amateur is over a century older than the U.S. Women’s Open.
It’s not quite summer, but I’m too excited about it. The Solheim Cup in Spain will be absolutely electric. I’m extra excited because earlier this week, Beth Ann Nichols tweeted that she got to preview the course!
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