SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Andrea Lignell played 40 holes to win two matches Tuesday and Ole Miss made its debut in the NCAA Women’s Championship by advancing to the title match against Oklahoma State.
Both teams are seeking their first NCAA title in women’s golf.
Oklahoma State, whose men’s program has 11 national titles, reached the final for the first time since the NCAA moved to match play in 2015. The Cowgirls won nine of the 10 matches they played at Grayhawk Golf Club in wins over Auburn and Duke.
The surprise was Arizona, which knocked out top-seeded Stanford in the morning quarterfinals. The Cardinal earned the top seed with a 13-shot victory in stroke play, with Rachel Heck winning the individual title.
Gile Bite Starkute delivered the decisive blow for Arizona by making a 30-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 19th hole to send Arizona into the semifinals.
Starkute couldn’t repeat her heroics in the afternoon against Lignell and Ole Miss.
Lignell, who won her quarterfinal match in 22 holes against Kaitlyn Papp of Texas, kept a 1-up lead over the final six holes against Starkute in what looked to be the key match.
On the par-5 18th, Starkute pulled a wedge just left of the green when she needed to win the hole to extend the match. Lignell safely went about 45 feet long and lagged to just outside 3 feet, a short putt she had to make for Ole Miss to advance.
There was no such drama for Oklahoma State on the back nine. After a 4-1 victory over Auburn in the morning, Maja Stark and Isabella Fierro won the opening two matches over Duke’s Gina Kim and Erica Shepherd, and Rina Tatematsu closed out Phoebe Brinker to assure Oklahoma State would advance.
The Cowgirls were runner-up to UCLA in 2004 when it was stroke play.
Arizona’s victory over Stanford in the morning extended the streak of the No. 1 seed not winning the NCAA title.
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