MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU

May 24, 2014

Duke takes women’s title, Sooners finish fourth

TULSA — Duke rallied to beat Southern California by two strokes Friday for its sixth NCAA women’s golf title, and the Trojans’ Doris Chen took the individual championship.

Duke, two strokes down on the back nine after taking a six-shot lead over Southern California into the final round, had a 6-under 274 total at Tulsa Country Club to finish at 10-over 1,130. The Trojans, the winner last year, shot 10-under 270.

“To have this special group of people fall behind against a team like USC, knowing what they’ve done in the last several years and that they were getting their momentum, to get those birdies and come back ... I can’t imagine one of the other championships being better,” Duke coach Dan Brooks said.

Brooks also led the Blue Devils to titles in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The hail-shortened 1999 event also was played at Tulsa Country Club.

Chen closed with a 3-under 67 for a two-stroke victory over Duke’s Celine Boutier. Chen finished at 6-under 274. Boutier, tied with Chen for the third-round lead, shot 69.

UCLA was third at 25 over, followed by Oklahoma at 27 over and Arizona State at 30 over.

“We had a little bit of a hiccup yesterday, but we moved on and got better,” said OU coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell. “We wanted to come out today and play well and the girls came back and did that. We’re definitely happy to go back to Norman with a trophy. This is the best we’ve ever done as a team, and I’m just really proud of the whole group.”

Alexandra Kaui led the Sooners, finishing in a tie for 16th place out of 126 golfers with a four-round 285 (+5).

“I feel great about our finish even though we made a few mistakes,” said Kaui, whose 72.76 final season scoring average ranks as the second best in school history. “We still played better than we ever have, and it’s our first NCAA trophy to bring back home. I’m really proud of our seniors and this team.”

With a 288 (+8), Chirapat Jao-Javanil, the 2012 medalist, tied for 28th place after carding an even-par 70, her best of the event.

“OU has given me so much more than I could have ever asked for,” Jao-Javanil said. “I’m just glad that today, as a team, we came through and put another record in the books. I’m really proud of my four years and all of the seniors’ four years. We’ve accomplished so many great things together and the memories I’ve made here will last a lifetime.”

Anne-Catherine Tanguay finished in a tie for 43rd place with a tournament total of 291 (+11). Emily Collins logged a 1-under-par 69 for the final 18 holes, OU’s best score of the day, to jump to 48th place with a four-round 292 (+12). Kaitlyn Rohrback tallied a 2-over 72 on Friday and a four-round 299 (+19).

Duke got some help when Chen, 5 under through her first 10 holes, double-bogeyed the 11th. That combined with a run of Duke birdies to give the Blue Devils the lead for good.

Laetitia Beck and Alejandro Cangrejo matched Boutier at 68, and Sandy Choi shot 69. Those four combined for 11 birdies on the back nine. Yu Liu’s 72 didn’t count in Duke’s total.

Sophia Popov led top-ranked Southern California with a 65. Kyung Kim matched Chen with a 67, and 2013 NCAA champion Annie Park and Karen Chung shot 71.

“We had not played the front nine well, but today we got it figured out,” Trojans coach Andrea Gaston said. “We definitely had a chance and had the momentum. But Duke has an incredible team and they did not bow down to our charge. They put up some great scores and really shot well on the back nine.”

Chen made a 45-foot downhill birdie putt on the fifth hole, and rolled in a short birdie putt on the 10th to reach 5 under, but hit her second shot over the green on the par-4 11th and couldn’t get on the green with her third.

“The putts were falling early today and that really relaxed me,” Chen said. “I didn’t stress at all until the final four or five holes.”

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