SUNCADIA, Wash. – No. 11 Washington came up just one stroke short of their first NCAA Regional title in school history, falling to top-ranked USC. The Dawgs shot a final round of 9-over 297, the best of the day, but it was not quite enough to overtake the defending national champion Trojans.
“We just ran out of holes,” said head coach Mary Lou Mulflur. “They played well and fought hard. The wind was just brutal out there, but our team really hung tough.”
SooBin Kim nearly chipped in for eagle on the 18th and final hole that would have tied it, instead settling for the tap-in birdie. Although the Dawgs came up one stroke short of the title, second place was still the program’s best-ever finish at regionals. Washington also easily qualifies for the NCAA Championships as the top eight teams advance to Tulsa on May 20-23.
The Dawgs and Trojans will be joined at NCAA’s by No. 6 Arizona State, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 23 Michigan State, Iowa State, Texas A&M and No. 19 Northwestern who finished third through eighth in the West. Two other regionals will also advance eight teams, giving the NCAA's a 24-team field.
Kim was the Dawgs top individual finisher at 1-under for the championship to tie for second place. She shot a 3-over 75 for the final round, but 2-under on the back nine after a struggle over the first nine holes.
“SooBin played great," said Mulflur. "She had a little trouble judging the wind today, but I was proud how she battled back. It was awesome to see her respond and not throw in the towel.”
The Dawgs top player on Saturday was Charlotte Thomas who was the only player to score in red figures for the final round. Thomas shot a 1-under 71 on a brutal day where Mulflur called par “probably closer to 75.” Thomas finished sixth for the championship at 1-over 217.
Also with top-10 was Jennifer Yang who placed seventh at 2-over. Yang played a nearly flawless final round with 17 pars and just a single bogey on the par-five eighth. Her 1-over 73 gave her a score of 2-over 218 for the championship.
“Charlotte and Jen Yang played beautiful golf today,” said Mulflur. “We had it in our sights and there is nothing to be ashamed of. This was a very competitive regional.”
The final score kept for the Dawgs came from Ying Luo at 6-over 78. Luo finished 14-over in a tie for 42nd.
Kelli Bowers finished in that same tie for 42nd after a final round of 7-over 230.
“It’s great to be going back to nationals,” said Mulflur. I am glad to get Kelli back after all that she has been through. It’s just nice to see all of our hard work paying off.”
After a great week as the host school, the Dawgs will next travel to The Tulsa Country Club for the NCAA Championships. It will be the first trip to NCAA’s for the Dawgs since 2011. Washington has an all-time best finish of sixth place at the NCAA Championships coming in 2004 and 2006.
After the big finish, Mulflur also made sure to congratulate Tumble Creek for hosting such a great event.
“Tumble Creek was amazing, incredible, whatever adjective you want to use. Their staff was unreal getting it right every single time. It was very impressive considering it was their first time hosting an event like this.”