The No. 13 Washington women’s golf team defeated No. 12 Stanford on Wednesday to claim the UW’s first national championship in program history. A national title will make its way back to Seattle for the first time since 2009.
The championship match, hosted at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., was an absolute nail-biter as the final round ended with the anchor matches going into extra rounds.
The Huskies were again carried by their three freshmen, Wenyung Keh, Sarah Rhee, and Julianne Alvarez, two of whom put points on the board for the UW.
Alvarez led the Huskies to the national title after beating Stanford senior Lauren Kim. Alvarez started 1 up after the first hole, but went all square after a hiccup on the second. She would come back to take and hold the lead through 15 holes, until Kim chipped enough of Alvarez’s lead to go all square to the 19th.
The Wellington, New Zealand, native had the chance to earn the UW’s third point and end the match if she had sunk two putts on the 19th hole. Alvarez’s first putt set the ball a few feet away from the hole, but the second putt missed left to force an additional hole.
As Alvarez and Kim approached the 20th hole, Rhee lost her match to Stanford freshman Sierra Kersten, tying the day at 2-2. Both Alvarez and Kim made the green in three strokes, forcing both golfers to sink par putts to continue play. Alvarez finished on par, leaving Kim with the deciding putt; if she made it, play would continue, but a miss would give the UW its first-ever national golf championship.
Kim’s putt broke left, missing the hole completely, and the Huskies became the new national champions.
Keh’s strong putting bested Kersten and she would go on to win the match 4 and 3, recording the UW’s first point of the day, tying the match 1-1. Stanford recorded its first point after senior Charlotte Thomas was defeated by sophomore Shannon Aubert 2 and 1.
Thomas will end her career as a Husky with the most top-10 tournament finishes in school history, and now a national title.
Fellow senior Ying Luo also played her last round as a Husky, and ended with a hole-out from over 60 yards to put the UW up 2-1 on the day. Luo saved a drive that went left of the 18th fairway by placing the ball directly in the middle of the fairway on her next stroke, and the hole-out ended Luo’s match, beating junior Casey Danielson 1 up.
Rhee held her own against one of Stanford’s best, senior Mariah Stackhouse, taking her to extra rounds before falling by a single stroke. Rhee forced the first extra hole after coming back from a triple bogey on the par-3 14th. After 20 holes, Stackhouse defeated Rhee 1 up to tie the day at 2-2, putting the pressure on Alvarez and Kim to putt for the national championship.
Alvarez entered the tournament unranked and paired with the No. 4 collegiate golfer in the nation. With the championship on the line the underdog came through with a par putt on the 20th hole to best Kim 1 up.
Reach reporter Oliver Groeneveld at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @OliverGr_UW