May 11, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. - Freshman Betty Chen's career-best 3-under 69 was part of a strong final round for the No. 16 UC Davis women's golf team which qualified for the national finals for the third time after finishing sixth Saturday at the NCAA Central Regional at the University of Oklahoma.
Playing well down the stretch, UC Davis shot a collective 1 over 289, earning a top-eight placing that qualified it for the NCAA Division I Finals at the University of Georgia on May 21-24. It'll be the Aggies' third appearance during its six brief years at the Div. I level.
UC Davis was 16-over 880 for the week.
Chen's outstanding play was part of a spectacular final round for UC Davis which also received a 72 from senior Demi Runas, 74's from both freshman Andrea Wong and sophomore Beverly Vatananugulkit, and a 77 from senior Amy Simanton.
"Betty had a fabulous round today and put us in a great place," said first-year coach Anna Temple. "We struggled a bit on the front nine but played extremely well on the back nine.
"It was a great team effort, especially coming down the final holes. We have worked hard to have an opportunity to compete for an NCAA championship and we are looking forward to our trip to Athens (Ga.) next week."
Chen's outstanding round lifted her to a tie for 11th place in the final standings while Runas, the three-time reigning Big West Player of the Year, tied for 16th. Wong tied for 35th, Vatananugulkit tied for 42nd and Simanton tied for 102nd.
The Aggies' team score was its best of the three-day tournament and helped them during a close battle that saw just six shots separate third through 12th place after Friday's second round.
Third-ranked Duke (-13) posted a six-shot win over No. 4 Oklahoma (-7) to claim the team title. Other teams to qualify are Mississippi State (+8), No. 9 Florida (+13), No. 15 Arizona State (+14), Wisconsin (+19) and No. 27 Michigan State (+20).
UC Davis closed the 54-hole tournament impressively with Chen playing her back nine 3 under and Runas playing her last nine holes two shots below par. Vatananugulkit was even down the stretch while Wong was only 1 over.
Chen had a pair of birdies and two bogeys over her first nine holes on Saturday but then turned it on to card six pars and three birdies on the back nine, including birdies on the 17th and 18th holes, to come in with a 69. It was her best round of the season by three shots. She finished 1 over.
Runas' 70 marked her second consecutive strong round at par or better. She was 2 over after 10 holes on Saturday but then birdied the par-4 11th as well as the 13th and 18th holes. Runas ended the tournament at 2 over.
Wong's 74 came with a front nine that had three birdies, four bogeys and two pars, and a back nine that featured eight straight pars before a final-hole bogey. Vatananugulkit was 2 over at her turn before collecting three straight birdies - part of four birdies over a five-hole span - to help her move to a shot below par before also finishing with a 74. Wong was 6 over overall while Vatananugulkit was 7 over.
Simanton had an opening-hole birdie and another on the par-5 8th hole. She was just a shot over par midway through her round. Simanton had six pars over her final nine holes.
Ally McDonald's 68 sparked her to a 10-under 206 total and a five-shot win over Alejandro Cangrejo of Duke, and Emily Collins and AC Tanguay of Oklahoma.
UC Davis, four-time defending Big West Champions, qualified for the NCAA Finals in 2008 and 2010. The Aggies finished 20th two years ago for their best showing.
NCAA CENTRAL REGIONAL
Norman, Okla. (hosted by Univ. of Oklahoma)
Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club
Par 72, 6,298 yards
1. Duke, 284-291-276-851
2. Oklahoma, 283-286-288-857
3. Mississippi State, 292-299- 281-872
4. Florida, 282-307-288-877
5. Arizona State, 292-298-288-878
6. UC DAVIS, 291-300- 289-880
7. Wisconsin, 292-303-288-883
8. Michigan State, 291-301-292-884
9. North Carolina State, 294-298- 293-885
10. Washington, 294-307- 285-886
11. Texas Tech, 296-295- 297-888
12. Coastal Carolina, 293-297-299-889
13. SMU, 296-302- 300-898
14. Wake Forest, 299-301-301-901
15. TCU, 290-303- 309-902
16. Iowa State, 294-307-302-903
17. UTSA, 302-303- 299-904
18. Indiana, 292-309-310-911
19. Gonzaga, 303-309-306-919
20. Campbell, 301-310-310-922
21. Lamar, 303-321-302-926
22. llinois State, 301-318-327-946
T23. Butler, 305-326-321-952
T23. Detroit, 312-323-317-952
1. Ally McDonald, Mississippi State, 69-69-68-206