Arizona State Defeats Northwestern in 2017 NCAA Women's Golf Championships

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2017

Arizona State’s Monica Vaughn tees off during the final round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships against Northwestern at Rich Harvest Farms, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, in Sugar Grove, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Arizona State is the NCAA women's golf team champion after its finals victory over Northwestern. 

The Sun Devils won three of five individual matches with one draw in the championship round Wednesday in Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Hill, Ill.

Monica Vaughn had already won the individual title Monday, but now the rest of the team gets to celebrate alongside her for the eighth team championship in program history.

Per Justin Ray of Golf Channel, the Pac-12 now has half of the 36 women's team titles in NCAA history, including the last three.

Golf Channel captured the winning putt from Linnea Strom: 

Former Arizona State star Jon Rahm also celebrated the victory:

Northwestern had posted the best score in stroke play to earn the top seed in the match-play portion, but the squad couldn't keep up in the finals.

Arizona State Wins 3-1-1
MatchupScore
Olivia Mehaffey (ASU) def. Sarah Cho (NW)4 and 3
Hannah Kim (NW) vs. Monica Vaughn (ASU)All Square
Kacie Komoto (NW) def. Sophia Zeeb (ASU)3 and 1
Roberta Liti (ASU) def. Janet Mao (NW)5 and 4
Linnea Strom (ASU) def. Stephanie Lau (NW)5 and 3
NCAA.com

Olivia Mehaffey sent a message from the first pairing for Arizona State. Taking on a worthy opponent in Sarah Cho, she stepped up with birdies on the first two holes to take an early lead.

The freshman ended up winning five of the first seven holes for a huge advantage in the early going. Although the remainder of the day wasn't quite as easy, she still earned a 4 and 3 win for the Sun Devils' first point.

The rest of the team followed her lead as the day went on, with Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel describing the one-sided play:

After Mehaffey closed out her point, Roberta Liti continued the run with a 5 and 4 win over Janet Mao.

Kacie Komoto got one back for Northwestern with a 3 and 1 victory over Sophia Zeeb, but this wasn't enough to slow down the Sun Devils.

Linnea Strom was able to clinch the team victory with her third match win in three rounds with a 5 and 3 victory over Stephanie Lau. 

Lau had one of the top shots of the day for this eagle:

Strom only used this as motivation, though, winning the next four holes with three birdies and a par. Her win gave Arizona State three points and clinched the victory for the storied program.

These matches took the pressure off perhaps the biggest battle of the day was between Hannah Kim and Vaughn, the top players for each team.

Kim took control for much of the match, going up three holes on the strength of back-to-back birdies at the turn:

As she did in the individual championship, however, Vaughn fought back from behind. Kevin Casey of Golfweek described the impressive performance:

While Kim responded with a birdie on 17, it returned to all square with Vaughn's birdie on 18. They settled for a draw with the rest of the tournament complete, but the match between two elite players should not be forgotten.

Arizona State wasn't as consistent as Northwestern throughout the week, but it came up big when it counted. There are enough underclassmen to return as a top contender next year, although the Wildcats should also be a threat once again in 2018.

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