By Lindsay Gaesser, SDA Media Relations
CLE ELUM, Wash.—Led by junior Noemi Jimenez, who won the individual title on Saturday, the sixth-ranked Arizona State women’s golf team placed third at the NCAA West Regional. With this top-eight finish, the Sun Devils advance to their 23rd-consecutive National Championship appearance, an NCAA record.
The battle for first place on the team leader board went down to the wire between top-ranked Southern California and No. 11 Washington. The Women of Troy held on for the win, edging out the Huskies by one stroke.
On the individual leader board, Washington’s SooBin Kim and USC’s Annie Park were nipping at Jimenez’ heels on the back nine, but they were unable to overcome her two stroke lead. Jimenez nabbed the NCAA West Regional individual title with a 3-under 213 (67-74-72). This is Jimenez' first title of the season and third of her career.
“It feels really good,” said Jimenez of her win and the Sun Devils’ third place finish. “We made it a goal to make it to Nationals, and it feels really good to advance to the championship this year. Today was a tough day overall, so the scores weren’t as low. But it was a good finish anyway.”
On the season Jimenez has finished in the top 10 of her 11 tournaments including recording six-straight top-five finishes. The last Sun Devil to win a regional title was fellow Spaniard Carlota Ciganda at the 2009 West Regional, before helping the Sun Devils to their seventh national title.
“We are thrilled to advance to the national championship,” added ASU head coach Melissa Luellen. “I’m really excited for Noemi and her win as well. Noemi played awesome today. The course and conditions were difficult, but she was just so solid and so committed down the stretch.”
Despite being plagued by bogeys and double bogeys on Saturday due to the tough conditions, including wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour, three other Sun Devils also placed in the top 25.
Freshman Monica Vaughn, who had no trouble with the back nine in the first two rounds, hit a rough patch in the final round. With two bogeys and two double bogeys in the home stretch, Vaughn finished the day tied for 17th with a tournament total of 9-over 225 (74-72-79).
Senior Justine Lee, who shot a 2-over 74 in the second round, also struggled with the back nine. Carding bogeys on holes 10, 12, 16, and 17 and a double bogey on 11, Lee shot an 8-over 80 in the final round. Shooting 10-over 226 (72-74-80) through 54 holes, Lee tied for 22nd overall with teammate Laura Blanco, who shot a tournament total of 10-over 226 (77-69-80).
“Laura hit the ball really well this weekend, especially on Friday,” said Luellen. “She struggled a little with her short game today, but she’s a great golfer and she can play well through her injury and the conditions.”
Junior Emilie Alonso had another rough day on the course. Shooting 10-over 82, Alonso carded six bogeys and two double bogeys for the day. Alonso tied for 91st with a three-day total of 24-over 240 (76-82-82).
“Emilie was not feeling too good about her technique,” said Jimenez of her teammate’s performance this weekend. “The course was really tough. Even though she wasn’t playing her best golf, she was a very important part of the team because of her positive attitude.”
Next up, the Sun Devils head to the 2014 NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Okla., co-hosted by Tulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission, May 20-23. Arizona State advances from the NCAA West Regional with the following teams: No. 1 Southern California, No. 11 Washington, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 23 Michigan State, No. 27 Iowa State, No. 36 Texas A&M, and No. 19 Northwestern.
“We’re looking to focus a lot on our short game next week,” Jimenez said of the upcoming weeks. “The golf course at Tulsa is not all that long, so we have a week to get our short game ready for it. We have what it takes to win, and I think it’s going to be a good tournament for us.”
|1||Noemi Jimenez (1)||67||74||72||213||-3|
|T17||Monica Vaughn (2)||74||72||79||225||+9|
|T22||Laura Blanco (5)||77||69||80||226||+10|
|T22||Justine Lee (4)||72||74||80||226||+10|
|T91||Emilie Alonso (3)||76||86||86||240||+24|