Two playoffs, one round: Wild finishes highlights third round of the women’s NCAA Championship

·3 min read

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The three-hole playoff that earned Justin Thomas his second PGA Championship win was entertaining, but did you know there was another golf tournament happening on Sunday that featured not one, but two playoffs?

Welcome to the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship.

After the completion of Sunday’s third round at Grayhawk Golf Club, Wake Forest and South Carolina were tied for the 15th and final spot in Monday’s final round of stroke play, setting up a five-player playoff to decide who advances. Each player played a different hole, and it was Louise Rydqvist’s birdie that was the deciding factor in the Gamecocks’ one-shot playoff victory. Following Monday’s final round, the top eight teams will advance to match play, starting Tuesday.

But that’s not all. The top nine players not on an advancing team get a shot at the final round, and after 54 holes a 5-for-2 playoff was needed to decide the advancing individuals, as well. Michigan’s Hailey Borja was the first to punch her final round ticket with a par on the tricky 10th hole – the most-difficult hole of the day and second most-challenging of the week – leaving a 4-for-1 playoff for the final spot. Oklahoma State’s Maddison Hinson-Tolchard then made birdie on the 18th hole to end the long day in the desert.

Leaderboards: Team | Individual

At the top of the leaderboard, Stanford increased its lead to nine shots after shooting the low round of the day a tournament, a 5-under 283.

“I think we’re just really patient. I mean most of the birdies came right there in the last couple of holes,” said head coach Anne Walker, who praised the way her star players Rose Zhang and Rachel Heck have played this week. Zhang leads in the race for individual medalist honors at 9 under following a 3-under 69 aided by birdies on her final three holes.

“And then Sadie Engelmann, that’s probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve since at play in her time here at Stanford,” Walker continued. “She looked like a total boss lady out there and no matter what her outcome was going to be, the fact that she handled herself like an absolute boss lady was so cool.”

Cool indeed, seeing as its rare when the player in the fifth spot ties for the second-best team score of the day, a 2 under 70 to tie Heck.

“I don’t consider any of them fifth-spot players, quite frankly. We don’t look at any of them from a fifth spot, third spot, first spot situation,” explained Walker. “We just look at everyone like everyone’s going out there with the same golf course. These are all super experienced players, so it doesn’t surprise me that when I see a Sadie Engelmann pop up with a 2 under.”

The performance of the day came from Georgia’s Jenny Bae, who fired the low round of the tournament thus far with a 5-under 67. Bae was bogey-free the entire round before her lone blemish came on her final hole of the day.

“My confidence is definitely up there,” said Bae, who after starting 6-over through six holes on Friday is 8 under over her last 48 at Grayhawk. “I think I’m just gonna use whatever I felt today and the momentum and carry it on to tomorrow.”

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