UVa Women Golfers Repeat Fourth-Place Finish at NCAA Championships
Franklin, Tenn. – For the second consecutive season the 27th-ranked Virginia women’s golf team finished fourth at the NCAA Championships. The Cavaliers shot 4-over 292 during Friday’s final round for a 72-hole total of 23-over 1175.
Alabama claimed its first title, holding off USC by one shot. The Crimson Tide finished at 19-over 1171 while the Women of Troy were second at 1172. LSU was third at 1173.
Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil took medalist honors at 6-under 282. She placed four shots ahead of Alabama’s Brooke Pancake.
The Cavaliers were the first team since the 2007 championship to post a top-10 finish after entering the tournament ranked outside of the top 25. Virginia’s 72-hole score of 1175 was nine shots better than its previous best NCAA finish. This year’s appearance marked the sixth time in the program’s nine-year history the Cavaliers have advanced to the NCAA Championships.
For a team that dropped out of the top-25 early in the spring, it was an amazing comeback story.
In March, Virginia lost junior Nicole Agnello, a regular in the lineup and two-time NCAA Championship participant, to a wrist injury. Assistant coach Brian Bailie did not travel with the team to the NCAA Regional or NCAA Championships to stay with his 10-year old daughter Cassidy, who had surgery earlier in the week. The night before the championships began, sophomore Portland Rosen was informed by her parents that her mother was undergoing treatment for cancer.
Rosen, who finished 101st at the NCAA Regional and had to go through a qualifier to make the travel roster for the NCAA Championships, responded by leading the event after the first day when she shot a school record 6-under 66. She finished tied for eighth at 3-over 291. She shot 2-over 76 during the final round.
Instead of hanging her head after the disappointing finish at the NCAA Regional, Rosen rolled up her sleeves and went to work.
“The week before we came here I talked to a lot of people and I made up my mind to overcome the nerves and overcome the pressure,” said the native of Sugarland, Texas, who was 102nd at last year’s NCAA Championships. “I worked on that really hard and practiced hard and made up my mind that I was going to do well here at the NCAAs. It is the national championship and you might as well play your heart out.”
Rosen’s became the third Cavalier to post a top-10 finish at the NCAAs. She joined Leah Wigger, who was second in 2005, and Calle Nielson, who was sixth in 2009, as the other UVa players to accomplish the feat. Her score was the fourth best by a Cavalier at the NCAAs.
Lewellen said steady play and a drive to grind it out on a tough golf course paid off for the Cavaliers.
“I think if you had told me mid-October that we would be where we are right now, I’m not quite sure what I would have said and they (the team) would all agree,” said head coach Kim Lewellen. “For the 27th-ranked team in the country to finish in the final four, I think the girls know they are that good and they have worked that hard and it really shows. These girls can play golf. On a championship golf course it is difficult against great teams and they did it.”
The Cavaliers’ start of the week took and unexpected turn when after the first 18 holes sophomore Elizabeth Brightwell had her round disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. She signed for 71 after shooting even par 72.
“It’s easy to look at the final scores and say ‘What if?,'” Lewellen said. “But the reality is that the whole tournament would have played out differently. We were not paired with Alabama during the final round and they did what they needed to do to beat a very good USC team down the stretch. It would have all played out differently.
“You never know if that turned out to be a little morale boost for us or made us work a little harder. I think things happen for a reason and she (Brightwell) did really well this week. For her first NCAA tournament, she played really well. She had rounds of 72, 74, 75 and 72. If her score had counted, she would have tied for 14th place. I just think it shows her character to play that well the rest of the week.”
Junior Brittany Altomare posted the Cavaliers’ best final round score, shooting 1-under 71. She finished 29th at 295. Freshman Briana Mao was 38th at 297, including a 1-over 73 Friday. Senior Lauren Greenlief finished 102nd with a score of 309. She shot 81 during the final round.
“Yesterday I wasn’t aggressive at all and wasn’t trusting anything,” Altomare said. “Today I went out there with the attitude that I was going to be aggressive and if I had shots at things I was going to go for them.”
The Cavaliers return four of the five players who made up their NCAA lineup and hope to get a healthy Agnello back into the lineup next season.
“I’m really proud of everyone,” Altomare said. “To be realistic, I don’t think anyone was expecting us to make it here in the first place. To finish fourth is pretty amazing. That just shows we’re a good team and capable of playing with all of these teams ranked in the top ten. I’m looking forward to next season. We should have pretty much everyone back. It will be fun.”
2012 NCAA Championships
Vanderbilt Legends Club – North Course
Par-72, 6,377 yards
1. Alabama 286-285-306-294-1171
2. USC 297-288-294-293-1172
3. LSU 293-294-297-289-1173
4. Virginia 288-294-301-292-1175
5. South Carolina 302-281-300-293-1176
6. Arizona State 292-291-304-292-1179
6. Oklahoma 294-299-295-291-1179
8. UCLA 292-290-306-293-1181
9. Purdue 293-295-295-299-1182
10. North Carolina 290-292-303-299-1184
11. Vanderbilt 306-284-311-285-1186
12. Florida 302-293-297-298-1190
13. Texas 297-295-313-286-1191
13. NC State 299-294-305-293-1191
15. Duke 289-302-301-300-1192
16. Baylor 299-304-300-290-1193
16. Texas A&M 301-298-300-294-1193
18. Colorado 297-298-305-296-1196
19. Tennessee 300-307-307-286-1200
20. Michigan State 296-311-294-300-1201
21. Pepperdine 306-293-304-301-1204
22. Ohio State 303-307-305-296-1211
23. Arkansas 303-301-309-301-1214
24. Stanford 309-304-307-296-1216
1. Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Oklahoma 69-73-70-70-282
2. Brooke Pancake, Alabama 68-70-75-73-286
3. Laura Gonzalez, Purdue 67-76-74-70-287
3. Tessa Teachman, LSU 69-74-70-74-287
5. Katie Burnett, South Carolina 74-67-74-73-288
6. Lindy Duncan, Duke 70-75-75-70-290
6. Brittany Marchand, NC State 71-70-76-73-290
8. Gabriella Dominguez, Texas Tech 75-74-73-69-291
8. Kimberly Kaufman, Texas Tech 70-73-76-72-291
8. Giulia Molinaro, Arizona State 69-71-72-79-291
8. Katherine Perry, North Carolina 75-70-73-73-291
8. Portland Rosen, Virginia 66-75-74-76-291