The Washington women’s golf team played on its biggest stage since the national championships last season after being invited to play for the prestigious East Lake Cup on the East Coast.
Three other teams joined the UW: UCLA, Stanford, and Duke, and all vied for a chance to make it to the final round Tuesday. The three-day tournament started with individual stroke play Monday to see who could top the leaderboard, and concluded with match play to crown the team champion.
On the par-72, 6,249 yard course the Huskies were led by sophomore Wenyung Keh. Keh ended individual play tied for ninth place at 1-over 73, after failing to make up the last two of five bogeys on the back nine. She opened with a birdie on the second hole and would card three bogeys before making the turn. On the back nine, Keh finished with three birdies in the last five holes, but it wasn’t enough to cancel out the two bogeys on holes 10 and 12.
The remaining roster all placed within the top 20, as sophomores Sarah Rhee and Julianne Alvarez finished in 16th (6-over 78) and 20th place (14-over 86), respectively, and freshmen Eun Won Park and Ellen Takada placed 18th (9-over 81) and 19th (12-over 84) in their fifth collegiate start, respectively.
Two golfers from Stanford tied for first at 4-under 68 after 18 holes. It would take six playoff holes to crown the individual champion, and Stanford freshman Andrea Lee would edge out senior Casey Danielson with a 25-foot birdie putt to end the first day of play.
Washington quickly recovered, and the fast turn around proved successful for the Huskies as they bounced back from their combined 42-over 316 round Monday.
The UW faced Pac-12 rival Stanford in the semifinal round, a familiar matchup as both teams competed for the national championship just five months ago.
The Huskies gained an early advantage with four of the five Husky pairings taking an early lead.
Park faced the individual champion, Lee, and carded as high as 2-up in the first four holes. Three holes at all-square gave the momentum back to Lee, who finished on top and defeated Park 5-and-4.
That hiccup didn’t faze Washington, as the remaining four pairs topped the Cardinal to advance to the final round Tuesday.
Alvarez came back from a deficit after six holes to secure the lead before the turn to defeat Stanford sophomore Sierra Kersten 3-and-1. Rhee and Keh topped their opponents 5-and-4.
Rhee went 1-up after opening the first four holes all square with freshman Albane Valenzuela. She secured her lead after the turn, finishing the last six holes 5-up. Keh had better luck to open the match and would go all square with junior Shannon Aubert on only one hole. Keh also ended her match 5-up through holes 15-18.
Takada topped Danielson 2-and-1 after a close match. While Takada held the lead after opening the first two holes all square, she would only be 2-up against Danielson to end the round.
Washington handily advanced to the final round, and faced Duke to determine the winner of the East Lake Cup.
The Huskies weren’t able to take a quick lead against the Blue Devils after four of the five pairs fell behind on the first hole. Keh was the only Husky to gain an advantage and hold the lead to top freshman Ana Belac. Keh was 2-up through the 14th hole when Belac conceded, giving Washington its only match win.
Alvarez had the closest match on the final day against junior Leona Maguire. The pair traded the lead four separate times. Alvarez held a 1-up lead through holes 13 and 14 before the two went all square to close the final round.
Park, Takada, and Keh weren’t able to defeat their opponents and fell 1-up, 7-and-6, and 4-and-3 in their respective matches.
The UW will continue play after the start of the new year, traveling to compete in the Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif. beginning Feb. 12.
Reach Sports Editor Alexis Mansanarez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @almansanarez