2005: Ramage, Tigers roar back to finals

Lubbock, Texas

A year ago, thanks to an injured wrist, Diana Ramage could only watch helplessly as Auburn finished 11th at the East Regional and missed out on a spot in the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship

for the first time in nine years. What hurt even more was that the finals were held at Auburn’s home course.

At this year’s Central Regional, all that was forgotten as Ramage finished first individually and led the Tigers to the team title May 7 at Texas Tech’s Jerry S. Rawls Golf Course with a 32-over 896 total.

“I don’t think I ever even mentioned last year – they were making their own way,” Auburn coach Kim Evans said of her team. “But for me personally it’s huge.”

Texas A&M was second at 903. Missouri (905) finished third to earn its first finals berth and Arizona State (906) was fourth. Also advancing were Purdue, Tulsa, Michigan State and Arkansas.

Ramage, a fifth-year senior, ruptured her left wrist tendon in fall 2003, missed the rest of the season and still feels pain in the wrist and numbness in three fingers, prompting her to ice it down after rounds.

After this year’s SEC Championship, she had two cortisone injections before leaving for regionals, where she continued to take anti-inflammatories.

The wrist felt well enough Saturday for Ramage to post a 5-under-par 67 and win medalist honors by seven shots over Arizona State’s Louise Stahle.

“This week it wasn’t about an individual thing for me,” Ramage said. “We went this week not just trying to qualify. That’s the main thing coach kept telling us, ‘Let’s go to win.’ ”

The biggest surprise, however, wasn’t Auburn’s victory. It was Texas not advancing out of the regional, finishing one stroke behind Arkansas for eighth place when senior Perry Swenson made 11 on the final hole. The Longhorns, who were tied for the lead midway through the second round, had seven consecutive top-10 finishes at nationals.

“Everybody’s a little bit numb right now, because it’s not anything we expected,” Texas coach Susan Watkins told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I’m not going to kid you. My expectations were high enough to not even think about being in the top eight, but being in the top three. It’s pretty disappointing.”

Swenson’s drive on the par-5 18th hit a spotter’s cart and ricocheted into the adjacent No. 11 fairway. She then hit two balls into a lake that cuts across the 18th fairway. She hit her seventh shot behind the green, her eighth into a bunker, then blasted out and needed two putts for her 11, giving her a final-round 79.

The Longhorns’ misfortune was good luck for Arkansas, which also earned its first bid to nationals.

“We came off the course in ninth or 10th place, and I gave the team the ‘too bad, we were so close, looks like we missed it by one stroke . . .’ speech,” said Razorbacks coach Kelly Hester. “Then, all of a sudden, we were back in it.”

– Staff and wire reports

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