Women's East Regional: Vandy wins by 14 shots
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Team winner: Vanderbilt (24-under 840)
Individual winner: Jenny Hahn, Vanderbilt (9-under 207)
Also moving on: Teams – 2. South Carolina (854), T-3. North Carolina State (860), T-3. Duke (860), 5. Stanford (866), 6. Virginia (869), 7. Tulane (871), 8. Campbell (879).
Individuals – 1. Hayley Davis, Baylor (210); 2. Gabriella Wahl, East Tennessee St. (212)
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First of all
Greg Allen never dreamed that the motto “putting first things first” would lead to so many firsts. But that’s exactly what happened.
Allen hired Los Angeles-based mental-training company “Train to be Clutch” over the offseason and watched his team blossom into birdie-making machines. It took Allen 6 1/2 years to win his first title at Vanderbilt – the Central District Invitational on Feb. 18 – and now they’ve won four this spring.
But Vandy didn’t just win in the postseason, the Commodores pounded the field at the SEC Championship (by 11) and East Regional (by 14).
“Maybe the most special spring I’ve been a part of,” said Allen.
Rather than chase trophies, Allen returned the focus to nurturing and encouraging his team. The high-fives were aplenty in Tallahassee on Saturday when Vanderbilt shattered SouthWood’s three-round women’s collegiate record by a whopping 31 strokes. Vandy’s 14-under 274 broke a single-round school record by one shot (2006 Stanford-Pepsi Intercollegiate). Their three-round score of 24-under 840 also bested the school’s record by four.
The blowout was so big Allen turned to the individual race for drama as three Commodores had a chance at victory. Jenny Hahn’s eagle-birdie-birdie stretch on Nos. 10-12 helped produce a closing 66 and her first individual title.
“I just got lost in the birdies today,” said Hahn.
Teammate Kendall Martindale shot 67 to finish three shots back and Irina Gabasa tied for third.
Allen said he has three or four girls back home in Nashville who could’ve made the team but show nothing but support for the five who have put together such a successful spring campaign. For coaches, a drama-free season is a victory in itself.
“They’ve been focused; they’ve been fun; they’ve been relaxed,” Allen said.
And lately, they’ve been first.
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Page Marsh said there’s an easy answer to why her Wolfpack team came out hot in the final round: Last year they missed nationals by one stroke.
“They were very determined,” said Marsh.
North Carolina State was 11 under midway through the front nine on Saturday. Lindsey McGetrick birdied four of her first five holes and and two other players were 3 under par. Players sprinkled in a few bogeys on the back nine, but their 8-under 280 was good for a program-best third-place finish.
Junior Augusta James tied for third individually at 5-under 211. She posted only four bogeys in three days.
“It’s the greatest gift I could ever have,” said Marsh of her stress-free day.
North Carolina State advanced to its first NCAA finals in 2012, finishing seventh. They’ve now made it two of the last three years.
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Duke’s T-3 finish is its worst showing in the last seven tournaments. What pleased 30-year head coach Dan Brooks? The fact that each member of the starting lineup put in “serious contributions” this week.
“When somebody had trouble, somebody else stepped up,” Brooks said. “That's what you liked to see.”
The biggest surprise of the week for Duke was freshman Yu Liu’s second-round 84. That also happened to be the first time her parents flew in from China to watch her play.
The delightful Liu laughed a little when asked about mom and dad. Regardless, she had four lost balls on Day 2.
She rebounded nicely on Saturday with a 71.
“We were certainly thinking about winning it,” Brooks said, “but Vanderbilt made that thought sort of float away.”
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What day is it?
The Fighting Camels waited four hours from the time they finished Round 3 to find out they had clinched the eighth spot. But really, five hours is nothing compared to the 17 years they’ve waited to return to the NCAA Championship.
Moments after a tournament official handed Crooks an NCAA flag and binder, the championship’s official invitation, head coach John Crooks was nearly speechless.
“That flag is valuable,” Crooks said, with a hint of emotion.
Shortly after finishing up his interviews, two Campbell players dumped bags of ice on their decorated coach.
It’s a moment he won’t forget.
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Baylor’s Hayley Davis advanced as an individual on the strength of her closing 67. She finished in a tie for second, three shots behind Vandy’s Hahn. Her team finished two shots out of eighth place.
Gabriella Wahl of East Tennessee St. eagled the par-5 fourth hole to beat Pepperdine’s Grace Na in playoff for the second individual ticket to NCAAs. Na, a four-time All-American and four-time WCC Player of the Year, had a rough day as her team missed the eighth spot by one stroke.
Wahl, who shot 69 in the final round, can now feel better about that bogey she made on the last hole in regulation.