WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Oklahoma State’s Caroline Hedwall finished her round, yet her lead kept growing. With every hole that passed for Purdue, though, its once-huge team lead dwindled to nearly nothing.
Still, the Boilermakers did enough to claim their first NCAA women’s golf team championship.
Purdue held off Southern California on Friday by one stroke to win the team title while Hedwall shot a 68 to claim a four-stroke victory and the individual crown.
The Boilermakers, who shot a 7-over 295 to finish at 1 over, entered the final round with a 7-stroke lead over the Trojans, overcame a late rash of bogeys and wrapped up the title on the final hole.
“I’m not sure that they ever went ahead,” Purdue coach Devon Brouse said. “It was important that we did maintain the lead. Trust me, I checked that live scoring a lot on the back nine and I never saw them ahead. … It got down to two, then it got down to one, and that’s where it ended.”
Southern Cal, which led after each of the first two rounds, could have forced a playoff at the Country Club of Landfall course after Purdue’s Maude-Aimee LeBlanc left a 20-foot putt short on the 18th and tapped in for bogey.
“I wish I had finished with a birdie, but I guess a bogey was good enough,” a smiling LeBlanc said.
It sure was: The Trojans’ Jennifer Song rolled her 10-foot birdie putt to the right of the cup to clinch the title for the Boilermakers.
Hedwall, a sophomore from Sweden, finished at 12-under 276 to beat Arizona State freshman Jennifer Johnson, who entered the final round with a one-stroke lead but shot a 73. LeBlanc (71) and Auburn’s Cydney Clayton (66) finished at 7 under.
“I don’t think I’ve realized it yet,” Hedwall said of her title.
Before this, the Boilermakers’ previous best finish came in 2007, when they were second to Duke. Either the Blue Devils or a Pac-10 team had won every team championship but one from 1993-2009.
“It’s significant when somebody can dethrone a Pac-10 team, so to speak, because obviously, they’ve been a little bit dominant,” Brouse said.
Alabama, which had never finished higher than ninth in five previous NCAA championship appearances, ended up in third place at 5 over, followed by defending national champion Arizona State (9 over) and Arizona (14 over).
The Sun Devils’ Johnson spent most of the first three rounds leading the individual competition, but Hedwall – a two-time Big 12 player of the year – made her move late in her round.
Starting on the back nine, she went to 11 under with a birdie on the par-5 No. 4. Johnson pulled even with a birdie on No. 10, then fell a stroke back with a bogey on the par-5 12th.
Hedwall pulled away with a birdie on No. 8, and when she finished her round one hole later, she led Johnson by two strokes. Hedwall patiently hung around the 18th green for nearly 2 hours while Johnson finished her round with bogeys on two of her final four holes.
“She had to finish really well to beat me. I didn’t have to wait that long” to know the title was secure, a smiling Hedwall said.
For Hedwall, this was quite the way to leave Stillwater. She said she’s leaving the Cowgirls, plans to play an amateur schedule this summer and will try to qualify for the LPGA Tour.
LSU’s Megan McChrystal shot an NCAA championship-record 64 in the final round, breaking the mark of 65 most recently matched in 1998 by Arizona State’s Grace Park and Duke’s Jenny Chuasiriporn.