STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA | The Arizona Wildcats won the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship on Wednesday, defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide, 3-2, at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
It’s the Wildcats’ third national championship, but their first since 2000.
“It’s amazing,” said freshman Yu-Sang Hou, who won her match, 4 and 3, against Lauren Stephenson. “After making that eagle putt (during the stroke-play playoff), we just felt like we are alive. … This is the first time I’m here with all of my teammates, it’s amazing.”
The other Wildcat players that won their matches were Sandra Nordaas, who defeated Angelica Moresco, 1 up, and Haley Moore, who defeated Lakareber Abe in 19 holes in the day’s final match.
Abe forced extra holes when she hit a 3-wood to 10 feet and made birdie to Moore’s par.
After heading back to No. 18 (the 19th hole), Moore missed the green in two, but got up and down from the greenside rough to win the national championship after Abe missed her birdie putt.
“Oh my gosh, this means so much,” Moore said. “It’s like a dream. I would have never thought winning a national championship would have to be like this. I’m so happy for my team and I did this for them.”
The Alabama players who won matches were Kristen Gillman, who defeated Gigi Stoll, 4 and 3, and Cheyenne Knight, who defeated Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2.
On their way to winning the NCAA Championship, the Wildcats first defeated Baylor for the eighth and final spot in match play. In the quarterfinals Arizona defeated Pac-12 rival UCLA – the No. 1 seed in match play – 3-2. In the semifinals, they defeated another Pac-12 rival, Stanford, 4-1.
On Monday, before the start of the match play, Jennifer Kupcho, a junior from Wake Forest, won the NCAA individual title.
Kupcho shot rounds of 65-74-70-71 for 8-under 280 total and two-shot victory ahead of Andrea Lee of Stanford and Arizona’s Pagdanganan.
Last year, at Rich Harvest Farms, Kupcho held a two-shot lead as she stood on the par-4 17th during the final round, but a triple-bogey and par to finish put the Westminster, Colo., native on the outside looking in. She found herself in tears and finished a shot behind winner Arizona State’s Monica Vaughn.
“I was just trying to play my own game, not focusing on everyone else and just seeing what I can do,” Kupcho told Golfweek. “It’s just exciting to get here after everything I’ve been through.”
This year was about redemption for Kupcho.