STILLWATER, Okla. – CU had its best of three rounds at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship, but it wasn’t enough on Sunday to advance any further as the Buffs finished in 19th place at 40-over, 904, at the Karsten Creek Golf Club.
The No. 28-ranked Buffs needed to be among the Top 15 to advance to today’s fourth round, but fell just one stroke short. Four teams tied for 15th at 39-over, with Louisville edging Auburn, Arizona State and Wake Forest on a tiebreaker to advance.
Colorado’s season isn’t quite over though. Sophomore Robyn Choi, tied for 24th overall at 4-over, 220, will play in today’s fourth round as one of the top nine individuals not on an advancing team. The fourth round will determine the NCAA’s individual champion as well as the Top 8 teams advancing to match play.
CU shot 9-over, 297, in the final round, four strokes better than its second round total, and nine better than the first round. However, the Buffs weren’t able to score as well as others that were behind them after round two. CU entered the round tied for 14th, but was passed by five teams including No. 26 Baylor which had the second-best round of the day at 1-under and No. 2 Arkansas which played the final round at 1-over.
“We gave it all we had,” Colorado head coach Anne Kelly said. “Unfortunately we made some unforced errors coming in. We didn’t have a bad day, it just wasn’t good enough. They were playing hard until the end.”
Top-ranked Alablama has the overall lead at 2-under after a round-best 4-under, 284. No. 3 UCLA is second at 6-over followed by No. 9 Arizona at 16-over and No. 13 Northwestern at 18-over.
Choi shot a 2-under, 70, in Sunday’s third round to advance as the eighth individual and is 11 shots off the lead. Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho and Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight share the three-round individual lead at 7-under, 209. Choi’s 70 was lone under-par round for the Buffaloes on the weekend, and represents the lowest 18-hole score at an NCAA Championship in team history.
She was 1-under after a birdie at the par-4, No. 2 and stayed there through six. Choi dropped back to even with a bogey at the par-3, No. 7, but vaulted to 2-under after an eagle at the 490-yard par-5, No. 9, chipping in from the fairway about 90-yards out.
“She had a nice drive and the second shot played as a lay-up today, so she couldn’t go for it on the second shot,” Kelly said. “She had a nice pitch and it really flew there (into the hole). That’s one area she has really worked on and become better at.”
Choi moved up to 3-under with a birdie at the par-4, No. 13, but dropped back with a bogey at No. 14. She played even the rest of the way, capping off her round with a birdie at the par-5, No. 18.
Senior Brittany Fan wrapped up her collegiate career finishing in a tie for 42nd place at 7-over, 223. She shot 2-over, 74 in her final round. Fan made birdie at No. 3, but slipped to 3-over after 13 holes. She birdied two of her final five holes, both par-5s at No. 14 and No. 18.
Sophomore Kirsty Hodgkins finished tied for 67th overall at 11-over, 227, after shooting 4-over, 76, in the third round. She started even through three, but had three-straight bogeys to fall to 3-over. Hodgkins birdied No. 9 and stayed a 2-over through 12 until a double-bogey at No. 13. Hodgkins finished off her round with a birdie at No. 18.
Freshman Alisha Lau wrapped up her initial collegiate season finishing in 104th place at 18-over, 234. After a challenging round one with an 82, she shot in the 70s for the final two rounds. Lau carded a 5-over, 77 in the final round. She birdied the par-5, No. 1, but that ended up being her lone red number on the day. Lau played the back side at 4-over, closing with a par at No. 18.
Junior Gillian Vance finished in 127th place at 30-over, 246. She had her high round of the event on Sunday, shooting 13-over, 85. After playing the front nine at 6-over, she had a difficult stretch after the turn, shooting 8-over through the next six. Vance regrouped to close out her round with a pair of pars and birdie at the par-5, No. 18
“Kirsty had a rough day and Brittany didn’t player her best,” Kelly said. “Robyn was solid but left some out there too. We were close, but it just wasn’t our week unfortunately.
“I think our team just needs to get used to being at this level and competing at the very top. We’re a good solid Top 25 team, but to get to the level of a Top 10 team, we’ve got to get a little better.”
Choi will tee off her final round at 10:40 a.m. on Monday from hole No. 1, and will pair with BYU’s Rose Huang and Georgia’s Jillian Hollis.
“She can hopefully relax a little more and play, and see how far she can move up and get ready for the U.S. Open,” Kelly said. “This course is a great prep for that event, and I believe the team will get to stay and watch her so that will be fun for us too.
“I told a couple of them, ‘I know it’s not a great feeling now and that we’re all kind of tired, but give it a few days to look back and they should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.’ I would venture to say this is the best team we’ve had at CU and that top level keeps getting better. The 2012 team was good, but the level of play has jumped up since then. I’m very happy about what they’ve done and the way they have handled themselves and represented Colorado.”