It was pretty heady stuff for a freshman in college as a gallery of onlookers followed Jennifer Johnson around the Country Club of Landfall course in North Carolina.
They wanted to see if the young golfer could hold on for the last 18 of 72 holes to win the NCAA Div. I Women’s Golf Championship. For the first three days of the tournament she held the lead and, as late as the tenth hole of the final round, she still had a share of the lead, thanks to a timely birdie.
But the Cinderella story began to unravel on the final eight holes. Three bogeys and five pars let Caroline Hedwall from Oklahoma State slip into the lead, and Johnson finished as this year’s runner-up. Hedwall rallied in the closing holes to shoot a 68 in the final round, while Johnson could only muster a 1-over 73.
This was the fifth time this year that Johnson has finished a tournament in the top 10, and this effort helped the Sun Devils to a fourth-place team finish. The ASU squad put together a 9-over 1161 performance, behind Purdue, USC, and Alabama.
It was a major upset for Purdue, which squeeked by USC by a single stroke. The Boilermakers’ previous best finish was a second place in 1997. Pac-10 teams have dominated the national tournament for the past 15 years.
Meanwhile, another youngster was doing her best to hold up the fortunes of the University of Arizona team. Sophomore Margarita Ramos shot a 2-under 70, her third subpar round of the tournament, to finish in seventh place and help the Wildcats to a fifth-place team finish.
Ramos’ seventh-place individual finish was the best at the school since 2003 when Erica Blasberg tied for third, and the fifth-place team finish was the highest since the 2002 team shared second place.
On the men’s side, the ASU squad tied for fourth place at the Southeast Regional, which qualifies them to move on to the NCAA Championships in Chattanooga. The Devils finished 23-over for an 863 total.
Scott Pinckney completed his rounds with a 1-over 211, which was good enough for a tenth place individual finish. The junior from Anthem opened this season with three straight top-10 finishes and has been leading the pack for most of the season.
ASU has now made the NCAA Championship for the past eight seasons, and has made the trip 17 out of the last 18 years.
In the Southwest Regional, the University of Arizona men’s team had to settle for a share of tenth-place, finishing the 54-hole event with a 44-over 908. The Wildcats collected two rounds at par or better on the final round, but couldn’t gather the necessary momentum from the bottom of the lineup to move higher than the tenth-place finish they shared with Missouri.
Arizona was led by junior Tarquin MacManus, who shot a two-under 70 on the final round to finish in a tie for fifth place at even-par 216.
(Photo: USGA/Steven Gibbons)