EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Washington freshman Julianne Alvarez atoned for a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole with two tough par saves to win the decisive match in 20 holes Wednesday and deliver the Huskies their first NCAA golf title.
Washington won 3-2 over Stanford, with the final two matches decided in extra holes.
The final hour at Eugene Country Club was filled with two unlikely comebacks, a holed wedge from the fairway to win a match and wild swings in momentum that at times changed from shot-to-shot.
Lauren Kim nearly gave Stanford its second straight national title. Three down with three to play, Kim birdied the next two holes to stay in the match. She appeared to come up short, however, when Alvarez needed only two putts from about 35 feet to win the match and give the Huskies the title. Alvarez left the first putt about 5 feet short, and her par putt for the win caught the lip.
“She walked off and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I said, ‘Sorry? You have to play another hole,'” Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said. “Coming back from where you’re feeling bad to come through like this is just incredible.”
Stanford went from slim hopes to control quickly.
Mariah Stackhouse, who gave Stanford the winning point when it won the NCAA title last year, lost a 3-up lead with four to play against Sarah Rhee and went extra holes. She wound up winning in 20 holes when Rhee failed to make par on No. 18. That made it 2-2, and left it up to Alvarez and Lee.
On the first extra hole, Alvarez was in a bunker and had to play short of the green. Her wedge from 50 yards stopped a few feet behind the cup, and Kim’s birdie putt for the victory slid 4 feet by. Kim made that to go another hole. On the 18th, Kim went long with a hybrid, while Alvarez came up short. The freshman’s pitch from 70 feet in front of the green settled a few inches away. When Kim missed, the celebration was on.
The Huskies, who beat Virginia and UCLA to reach the final, kept coming up with all the big shots.
Ying Luo nearly lost a lead for Washington when she three-putted the 15th and ran her birdie putt about 7 feet past the hole on the 16th. But she made the par putt to stay all square and holed a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th to go 1 up.
Luo couldn’t reach the 18th green from the rough and needed to get up-and-down to avoid going extra holes. Her 45-yard wedge rolled into the cup and set off the first of many loud celebrations by the Huskies. On Tuesday, Rhee closed out her comeback against UCLA by holing a bunker shot.
Kim sobbed on the shoulder of Stackhouse after missing her par putt.
“The golf shots hit today, it was Washington’s week,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “Look at what they did to UCLA yesterday, and what they did to us today. It was high-level golf. There’s no reason for any tears. Washington earned this. We didn’t give it to them.”
In the other two matches, Shannon Aubert of Stanford won in 17 holes over Charlotte Thomas, and Washington freshman Wenyung Keh had the shortest match of the final round, 4 and 3 over Sierra Kersten.