The Colorado Buffaloes' women's golf team was oh so close. Painstakingly close.
Even though Colorado shot the fifth best round of the day — 5-over 289, it finished one shot back of Virginia at the NCAA West Regional for the sixth and final qualifying spot in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at the 6,289-yard, Par-71 Stanford Golf Course. It was also the Buffs' best round of the three-day tournament, yet, unfortunately, their season came to an end.
"It's really heartbreaking," Colorado head coach Anne Kelly said. "The team played really well today. They made a great comeback, but that's the way golf goes sometimes. I'm bummed for them because they just really played their hearts out this whole week, especially today. We thought hopefully we would get into a playoff, but Virginia played those last few holes really well. Everybody was really disappointed. A one-shot difference is really tough to take."
CU finished with a 32-over 884 to Virginia's 31-over 883.
The Buffs entered the round tied for 10th, but nipped away and trimmed 10 strokes off Virginia's lead as the Cavaliers faded from third to sixth in the final standings. But Virginia, led by co-medalist Elizabeth Szokol, who shot a 4-under 67 in the final round to finish tied with UC Davis' Andrea Wong at 4-under 209, held on.
"I'm really proud of this team, but just so disappointed for them," Kelly said. "We gave it our best shot and we'll come back even stronger next year."
CU's Esther Lee tied for 18th after her final-round even-par 71 left her at 6-over 219 for the tournament. It's her 11th top-20 finish of the season, tying her with Jessica Wallace in 2011 for the most in a single season. She finished with eight birdies and 32 pars.
Sophomore Brittany Fan carded a 7-over 220 for the tournament, tying for 22nd, while senior Alexis Keating was two shots back in a tie for 30th.
"It was a good year and a team effort throughout the entire season," Kelly said. "I'm happy that we could send Alexis out in one of our best seasons. I'm so happy that she played a good round today and we could end her career on a really strong note and strong season."
Freshman Gillian Vance was 33rd after a 10-over-par 223 and junior Natalie Vivaldi tied for 86th with a 25-over 238.
The top-10 finish was CU's 12th of the season, a school record. The Buffs finished with a 73.88 stroke average, the best in school history.
Host Stanford and Pac-12 rival Southern Cal tied for team honors at 4-over-par 856. Ohio State was third at 23-over 875, followed by North Carolina (878) and Virginia.
Only the top six teams and three individuals not on those teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament, scheduled for May 20-25 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club. Wake Forest's Jennifer Kupcho, a graduate of Jefferson Academy, earned the second of three individual slots after finishing at 1-under 212. Michigan State's Saran Burnham won a two-hole playoff over UNLV's Alexandra Kaui for the final individual spot.
NCAA WEST REGIONALS
T1. Stanford 289-280-287—856
T1. Southern California 287-284-285—856
3. Ohio State 299-285-291—875
4. North Carolina 302-289-297—878
5. Arkansas 298-291-290—879
6. Virginia 288-296-299—883
7. COLORADO 295-300-289—884
8. Wake Forest 295-299-293—887
9. San Jose State 299-301-288—888
10. Pepperdine 298-295-296—889
11. Michigan State 291-301-301—893
12. San Diego State 299-297-299—895
13. Texas Tech 291-307-298—896
14. UNLV 300-295-313—908
15. Idaho 300-304-307— 911
16. UC Riverside 306-313-308—927
17. Richmond 306-312-313—931
18. Seton Hall 310-315-319—944
TOP 5 INDIVIDUALS
T1. Elizabeth Szokol, Virginia 73-69-67—209
T1. Andrea Wong, UC Davis 72-72-65—209
3. Alana Uriell, Arkansas 72-67-71—210
T4. Casey Danielson, Stanford 72-68-71—211
T4. Tiffany Chan, Southern California 71-69-71—211
T18. Esther Lee 72-76-71—219
T22. Brittany Fan 71-75-71—220
T30. Alexis Keating 77-74-71—222
T33. Gillian Vance 75-75-73—223
T86. Natalie Vivaldi 79-79-80—238