UCLA survived a final-round charge by defending champion Purdue and won the NCAA women's golf title by four shots over the Boilermakers Saturday at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas.
It is the third national title for the Bruins, who entered the final round seven strokes ahead of Purdue and fell behind at one point late in the final round, but got a clutch birdie on the final hole by Stephanie Kono and final-hole pars from Ani Gulugian, Lee Lopez and Tiffany Lua to clinch the title.
That gave UCLA a final-round score of seven-over 295 and a four-round total of 21-over 1173, enough to hold off Purdue, which shot 292 in the final round. Purdue's Thea Hoffmeister was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, but even if her score had counted, UCLA would have won the title by two strokes.
"This was huge for us," UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said in a release through the school. "I'm just really proud. We had some struggles on the front nine and we just kept telling ourselves that our rounds were kind of the same. We just made more birdies in the other rounds and we weren't making any birdies. Then things started to go when Stephanie got it back to one-over. Then Lee got one and we just started making some birdies and it just sort of turned the tide a little bit. But it was still really close."
Gulugian's 72 was the top score for the Bruins on Saturday, meaning the Bruins had a different top scorer in each of the four rounds. That depth was crucial to winning the title.
Lua, who began the day leading the individual race, shot 75 Saturday and ended up tied for fourth at one-under for the tournament and six shots behind individual champion Austin Ernst of Louisiana State.
"The back nine for me was a little bit of a blur," Lua said. "But I can say this for everyone, all we try to do is play one shot at a time and try to hit fairways and greens. We just fought for every shot out there."
Kono had four birdies on the back nine Saturday to help offset a triple-bogey eight on the eighth and she shot 74 in the final round. Lopez also shot 74 to complete the counting scores for UCLA. Glory Yang shot 76 which didn't count Saturday, but her first-round 70 and second-round 75 were crucial to the title.
The Bruins last won the women's golf title in 2004 and also won it in 1991. This also ensures that UCLA will not go without an NCAA title this year. The last time that happened was 1994. UCLA has won an NCAA record 107 team championships.