Julianne Alvarez chipped to a few inches from off the green on the second extra hole against Stanford and secured the Huskies’ first national title.
EUGENE, Ore. — Julianne Alvarez made sure Ying Luo’s incredible shot was not for naught.
Alvarez, a freshman from New Zealand, won on the second extra hole Wednesday to give the fourth-seeded Washington women’s golf team the deciding point in a 3-2 win over defending champion Stanford for the program’s first national championship.
UW seemed to have the title won at Eugene Country Club when on the final shot of Luo’s UW career, she holed out from 61 yards on the 18th hole for birdie, giving her a win in her match and the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
“I imagined it going in,” said Luo, who thought about teammate Sarah Rhee holing out from the bunker on the 18th hole Tuesday to give UW a semifinal win.
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And when it found the hole it seemed a UW win over second-seeded Stanford was just a formality with Alvarez up by three with three holes to go. But Stanford senior Lauren Kim won the next three holes to send it to extra holes.
“I didn’t have time to be angry or frustrated,” Alvarez said. “I still had a job to take care of.”
On the second extra hole, the 18th, Alvarez chipped from 30 yards out to about 6 inches, and the par was conceded. When Kim missed a 12-foot par putt, it was finally over.
“They just battled and battled,” said UW coach Mary Lou Mulflur, in her 33rd season.
Alvarez needed two putts from about 30 feet to win the match on her 18th hole, but she three-putted, missing from about 6 feet after “getting nervous.” But about a half-hour later, she made amends on the same hole.
Also having a chance to win the final point for UW was freshman Sarah Rhee from Ingraham High School. For the second straight day she rallied from three down late in the match, forcing extra holes with Stanford senior star Mariah Stackhouse. But while Alvarez was playing her first extra hole, Stackhouse won on the 20th hole, putting the match in the hands of Alvarez and Kim.
Alvarez saved par on the first extra hole when after hitting a wayward drive on the par-4 10th, she hit an 81-yard wedge to about 1 foot on her third shot, setting up the dramatic finish one hole later.
Luo, who came to UW as a walk-on from China, is leaving as a hero after UW’s first title in an NCAA sanctioned sport since the softball team won in 2009.
She came to the 18th hole 1-up, but hit her tee shot in the bunker and was forced to lay up on the par-4 hole while Stanford’s Casey Danielson hit her second shot on the green, about 20 feet away. There appeared to be a good chance Danielson would win the hole to force extra holes, then suddenly it was over.
The national title was quite a parting gift for Luo and fellow senior Charlotte Thomas, who has the most career top-10 finishes in program history with 25. Helping make it happen was Wenyung Keh, who won 4 and 3 over Sierra Kersten to offset Thomas’ 2-and-1 loss.
Thomas and Luo were joined by five freshmen on the seven-player roster.
Thomas said she and Luo were the “moms” and early on it wasn’t always a happy family because of the age gap. But the group really came together after winter break.
“We had that awkward period at first, but (Thomas and Luo) are such great people and we really wanted to do something memorable for them,” Alvarez said.
For Mulflur, her only goal for the NCAA championships was for her team to have the most fun.
“This is what we talked about all year, and here we are,” Mulflur said. “It was our turn. I couldn’t be any more proud.”
|Huskies’ NCAA-sanctioned titles:|
|2008||Women’s cross country|