By Lindsay Gaesser, SDA Media Relations
PALOS VERDES, Calif.—Backed by junior Noemi Jimenez’ career-low 66, the seventh-ranked Arizona State women's golf team recorded a season-best third round score of 281 to vault up the leader board at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge and finish the tournament in third place.
The Sun Devils' three-round total of 23-over 875 (300-294-281) topped No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Oklahoma, and defending Northrop Grumman champion No. 2 UCLA. ASU finished two strokes behind second-place Duke and nine strokes behind first-place USC.
“The team stated very clearly this morning that they felt they could get into the top five,” said ASU Head Coach Melissa Luellen. “They were really composed on a difficult golf course that will usually chip away at your patience. Next thing you know, we started seeing putts fall from long distances. Maybe we were a little lucky here and there, but we just finished so strong with so many birdies in the last few holes. They just weren’t giving up, and next thing you know, we’re climbing the leader board and finishing in third.”
Jimenez led the Sun Devils, shooting a 2-over 215 (74-75-66) for the tournament. The junior tied for third place overall, making this her fifth top-10 finish on the season.
“Coming back out in her first tournament of the spring—having the long break from one tournament to the next—you have to work to get into some kind of a rhythm,” said Luellen of Jimenez’ slow start in the first two rounds of play. “I think she was thinking a lot about her swing and not trusting it. Her technique is great. Today, we did some great work on the range and she got herself in a really good place to just let it rip, feel free, and just trust her work.”
This extra work seemed to have made all the difference, as Jimenez carded six birdies on the front nine, including four-straight birdies to close the round. Jimenez’ 29 on the front nine, which includes some of the most difficult holes on the course, helped her to secure the lowest single-round score of the tournament. The 66 is the third-lowest single-round score in Sun Devil history.
Freshman Monica Vaughn broke par on the final day of play, finishing in a two-way tie for 10th with a three-round total of 4-over 217 (76-71-70). Junior Emilie Alonso shot 7-over 220 (79-70-71) tying her for 18th.
Senior Justine Lee, who struggled to find her rhythm on day two, improved in the final round, shooting 3-over 74 for a tournament total of 13-over 226 (71-81-74). Lee finished in a tie for 38th. Freshman Saki Iida tied for 80th overall, shooting a 26-over 239 (81-78-80) in her first tournament as a Sun Devil.
“This was our best performance in a field like this for the whole year,” said Luellen. “We’re without two seniors [Dani Ordonez and Laura Blanco] that have traveled to every tournament in their college careers. It was a great opportunity for the team to still represent the team. For them, it doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup. They’re out there fighting and working hard, and just representing. They really impressed me today.”
The Sun Devils return to action Mar. 7-9, when they travel to Hilton Head, S.C., to compete in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Long Cove Club, hosted by the University of South Carolina.
|T3||Noemi Jimenez (1)||74||75||66||215||+2|
|T10||Monica Vaughn (4)||76||71||70||217||+4|
|T18||Emilie Alonso (2)||79||70||71||220||+7|
|T38||Justine Lee (3)||71||81||74||226||+13|
|T80||Saki Iida (5)||81||78||80||239||+26|