SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Lauren Walsh closed out her match against Brianna Navarrosa with a conceded par on the 16th hole and Wake Forest won its first women’s golf championship by beating Southern California 3-1 on Wednesday.
Wake Forest lost to Duke in the 2019 national final and had a school-record five tournament wins this season with a veteran-led team.
The Demon Deacons had USC on the ropes early at Grayhawk Golf Club, jumping out to big early leads in two matches.
Two-time ACC player of the year Rachel Kuehn, who won twice during the regular season, beat Amari Avery 6 and 4. Emilia Migliaccio then closed out Cindy Kou 4 and 2, leaving the stage to Walsh.
The senior from Ireland had a 4-up lead through five holes and hit her tee shot to about 20 feet on No. 16 after Navarrosa rallied to within 3 down. Navarrosa chipped it close for par and Walsh hit her putt close just past the hole, sending the Demon Deacons rushing onto the green after Navarrosa conceded.
Mimi Rhodes rallied from an early 2-down deficit by winning five of six holes and had a birdie putt on the 17th green with a 2-up lead over Christine Wang when Walsh clinched it.
Catherine Park, the co-runner-up in the individual championship, beat Carolina Lopez-Chacarra 3 and in USC’s lone bright spot as its bid for a fourth national title came up short. The Trojans finished as the national runner-up for the sixth time, a day after knocking off reigning champion Stanford in the semifinals.
Navarrosa played in the anchor match in Tuesday’s semifinals against Stanford and hit one clutch shot after another to beat Rose Zhang, the top-ranked amateur in the world.
Navarrosa was in trouble from the start against Walsh, losing the opening hole with a bogey. Walsh won three straight holes starting on No. 3 and went 5 up with a birdie on the par-5 seventh.
Navarrosa won consecutive holes to cut the lead to 3 down through 13 holes, but Walsh saved par on 15 with a nifty chip shot and closed it out with a solid tee shot on No. 16.
Kuehn won three straight holes for a 3-up lead at the turn, won the 11th with a birdie and went to 5 up with a par on No. 13 Kuehn closed out Avery with a birdie on the par-4 14th for Wake Forest’s first point.
Migliaccio led 2 up after a birdie at No. 11, only to give it back with a double bogey on No. 12. The sixth-year senior pushed it back to 2 up with a birdie on the par-4 14th, pumping her fist as the putt dropped.
Migliaccio followed with another birdie after nearly holing out on 15 and won her match with a par the next hole.
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