Virginia Finishes Best-Ever 8th at NCAA Championships
Owings Mills, Md. The Virginia women’s golf team made history at the 2009 NCAA Championships held at Caves Valley Golf Club. The Cavaliers finished the 72-hole tournament eighth, the first top-10 showing in the program’s six-year existence. UVa was 12th last season and finished 13th in 2005 in its previous NCAA appearances.
The Cavaliers completed play with a final round of 304 for a four-day total of 60-over 1212. Top-ranked Arizona State distanced itself from Pac-10 rivals USC and UCLA during the final round to claim its seventh NCAA title. The Sun Devils shot 3-over 291 for the second straight day to place first at 1182. UCLA was the runner-up at 1190 and USC took third place at 1191. Oklahoma State finished fourth at 1199, Denver was fifth at 1206 and Duke rallied during the final round to take sixth place at 1207. North Carolina was seventh, two shots ahead of the Cavaliers.
“I’m extremely excited about how we played this week,” said Virginia coach Kim Lewellen. “We played very well as a team. We were consistent. I don’t see why we can’t do this every season. We have a great program and a great group of girls playing for us. We really enjoyed our week here. It was a great experience. You only play college golf once and being at a championship like this is a very memorable time. Having the best finish in the program’s history is something this team can always look back on with pride.”
Virginia sophomore Calle Nielson turned in another stellar performance Friday to tie for sixth-place overall. She shot even par 72 for a 72-hole total of 294. Nielson started the tournament with scores of 75 and 76 before finding her groove in the third-round when she carded a 1-under 71. She played the final two days at 1-under par on a course that produced an average score of 77.38 during the tournament.
“I wasn’t patient enough the first two rounds,” Neilson said. “I got frustrated and let bogeys turn into double bogeys. It just tumbled down from there. I didn’t do a good job of regaining myself those days. The last two days I stayed a lot more patient than I usually do. When I stay patient, I play my best golf.
“This is one of my favorite golf courses I have ever played,” Nielson said. “I like hard golf courses because they make me think. I do better when I have to think and I’m in the moment. One-under, over two days, is not bad here. I’ll take it.”
Nielson’s finish marked the sixth time in the UVa’s last seven tournaments she has led or shared the team lead in scoring. It was the sixth top-10 finish she recorded this season. She entered the tournament ranked No. 25 by Golfweek and No. 37 by Golfstat.
“It doesn’t feel like I finished in the top 10 because of the way I played the first two days,” Neilson said. “If I had just played better the first two days, look where I would have finished. I have two more years to hopefully win an individual title and a team title for UVa.”
Nielson becomes the second Cavalier to turn in a top-10 performance at the NCAAs. Leah Wigger was the runner-up in 2005.
“There isn’t going to be a test in college golf that will be tougher than what we faced this week and for her to play as consistent as she did on a course that was this difficult says a lot about her abilities,” Lewellen said. “I think she realized this is a hard test. I think that helped her to be patient and to perform better as the tournament went on. She realized she had the game for this course.”
UVa’s second-best finish came from senior Lene Krog, who was 48th overall at 305. She had an 80 during her final round. Junior Whitney Neuhauser was 54th at 307 including a 75 during her final day. A year ago she placed 101st in her first NCAA Championship appearance. Senior Kristen Simpson shot 80 during the final round and was 70th at 311. Joy Kim finished 75th at 312, including a 77 Friday. The field for this year’s event included 126 players.
Purdue’s Maria Hernandez took medalist honors at 1-over 289. She vaulted to the top of the leaderboard when USC freshman Jennifer Song double-bogeyed her final hole, pushing her to second place at 290. It was Hernandez’s sixth tournament championship this season.
By virtue of their place in the final standings, the Cavaliers earn a spot into next year’s PING Fall Preview, the site of the 2010 NCAA Championships, at The Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C.
Caves Valley Golf Club
Owings Mills, Md.
Par-72, 6,443 yards
1. Arizona State (1) 302-298-291-291-1182
2. UCLA (2) 296-293-304-297-1190
3. USC (4) 301-295-294-301-1191
4. Oklahoma State (5) 303-297-309-290-1199
5. Denver (14) 294-304-309-299-1206
6. Duke (11) 308-301-302-296-1207
7. North Carolina (10) 299-301-306-304-1210
8. Virginia (3) 305-302-301-304-1212
9. Pepperdine (13) 312-298-302-301-1213
10. Purdue (9) 306-301-311-298-1216
11. Alabama (6) 305-302-311-299-1217
12. LSU (7) 302-304-309-304-1219
13. Michigan State (17) 307-303-315-300-1225
13. Wake Forest (12) 303-300-318-304-1225
15. Georgia (15) 316-307-301-310-1234
16. Arizona (20) 310-305-314-306-1235
17. Tennessee (24) 307-313-306-311-1237
18. TCU (27) 314-316-301-307-1238
19. New Mexico (22) 311-314-307-310-1242
20. Tulane (29) 312-305-317-312-1246
21. UT Chattanooga (44) 316-307-305-320-1248
22. UC Irvine (18) 320-316-312-301-1249
23. Texas (38) 314-311-313-314-1252
24. Ohio State (26) 323-311-314-310-1258
Number in parenthesis is Golfstat ranking
1. Maria Hernandez, Purdue 74-72-72-71-289
2. Jennifer Song, USC 72-73-71-74-290
3. Pernilla Lindberg, Oklahoma State 74-72-76-69-291
4. Amanda Blumenherst, Duke 75-73-74-71-293
4. Azahara Munoz, Arizona State 78-71-72-72-293
6. Nannette Hill, Wake Forest 72-71-79-72-294
6. Calle Nielson, Virginia 75-76-71-72-294
8. Alice Kim, UC Davis 74-75-70-76-295
8. Maria Jose Uribe, UCLA 75-66-77-77-295
10. Lisa McCloskey, Pepperdine 74-69-78-75-296
6. Calle Nielson 75-76-71-72-294
48. Lene Krog 78-74-73-80-305
54. Whitney Neuhauser 75-76-81-75-307
70. Kristen Simpson 77-76-78-80-311
75. Joy Kim 79-77-79-77-312