Central: Uribe, UCLA defend their titles

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1Southern California 70.56  10 
2UCLA 70.68 
3Duke 70.79 
4Stanford 71.56  10 
5Arkansas 71.66 

UCLA women’s head coach Carrie Forsyth found plenty of positives in her team’s trip to Columbus, Ohio, starting with the Bruins’ 19-shot victory in the Central Regional.

The Bruins shot 303 in 35-mph winds Saturday for a 13-over 877 total at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course and a second consecutive Central title.

Big Ten champion Purdue (312) finished second at 896, three shots better than Wake Forest (306), the ACC champion.

The Bruins’ margin of victory at the Central matched that of another national title contender, No. 1 Arizona State, in the West Regional, but the Sun Devils were aided by a home-course advantage. The Bruins were approximately 2,300 miles from campus.

And unlike ASU’s Karsten Course, the Scarlet Course did not allow many red numbers. Caves Valley, site of the NCAA Championship May 19-22, won’t be much easier.

“I’m glad we were (in the Central) because the grass is really similar to Caves Valley, and it’s a similar type of golf course,” Forsyth said. “You really had to grind, and I think that gives you a good dress rehearsal for what we’re going to face in a week-and-a-half.”

Like her team, Bruins sophomore Maria Jose Uribe won the Central Regional for the second year in a row. Uribe made five birdies Saturday en route to a 1-over 73 and 4-under 212 total, one shot better than freshman teammate Stephanie Kono (74).

Uribe, the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur champ, is leaving school after the season to prepare for a pro career, but is focused on closing her college career on a high note.

“She’s very much a team player and really cares about doing well and helping the team,” Forsyth said. “She’s been working really hard and starting to get some of the rewards.”

This marked the third consecutive year a Bruin won a regional title. Sydnee Michaels won the ‘07 East Regional. Michaels tied for seventh this week at 8-over 224.

“We’re getting really close to everyone playing their best,” Forsyth said, “and that’s what we want.”

Tiffany Joh, who tied for 21st at the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, continued to struggle in collegiate competition, though.

She failed to qualify for one of the Bruins’ events earlier this spring, and tied for 24th at the conference tournament.

She finished T-42 this week at 232; her score was thrown out in the first round, and her final-round 79 tied for the team’s highest score of the day.

• • •

NICE DEBUT: Sixteenth-seeded Chattanooga shot a final-round 320, but it was good enough to hold onto eighth place and earn the Mocs their first trip to the NCAA Championship. The team, in just its second year of existence, was making its first postseason appearance.

“They really hung in there today,” Chattanooga head coach Colette Murray said. “It was not easy by any stretch, but they battled and earned their way to the finals.”

Chattanooga is No. 46 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

Christine Wolf and Emma de Groot were the highest-placing Mocs, finishing tied for 35th at 231. All five players from Chattanooga finished within six strokes of each other.

• • •

INDIVIDUAL HONORS: Oklahoma’s Kendall Dye and Louisville’s Cindy LaCrosse earned the two individual berths into the NCAA Championship. Dye also played the Central Regional as an individual.

LaCrosse’s team was the field’s fifth seed, but finished 11th, 10 shots behind Chattanooga.

LaCrosse earned her spot at Caves Valley by making par on the first hole of a playoff with Arkansas-Little Rock’s Sara Wikstrom, who was also playing the regional as an individual.

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