April 24, 2012
Orlando, Fla. – It took three extra holes to do it, but Notre Dame freshman golfer Ashley Armstrong (Flossmoor, Ill.) captured the 2012 BIG EAST women’s golf championship on Tuesday afternoon on the third hole of a playoff with Louisville’s Emily Haas.
The two golfers finished the 54-hole tournament on the par-72, 6,177-yard Tom Watson Course at the Reunion Resort and Golf Club with seven-over par totals of 223 to tie for first. Armstrong, who had a share of the tournament lead over all three rounds, shot a final round of one-over par 73 while Haas moved up from a tie for third with an even-par 72 for the first 18 holes of the day.
In the sudden death playoff, played on the 18th hole, bogeyed the 382-yard par four on their first try. On the second hole, Armstrong and Haas parred the hole. Armstrong then took the title on her third visit to the 18th when she birdied the hole to Haas’ par, giving her medalist honors.
Over the three days, Armstrong had rounds of 73, 77 and 73 for her seven-over par mark of 223, the second lowest total of her Irish career.
The tournament title was the first of Armstrong’s Notre Dame career, surpassing her previous best finish of a tie for 13th in her last outing at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga. She becomes the fifth Notre Dame golfer to win or share BIG EAST medalist honors joining co-winners Katie Brophy `06 in 2003 and Karen Lotta `05 in 2005 plus individual winners Annie Brophy `10 in 2008 and Lisa Maunu `09 in 2009.
Armstrong’s regulation round featured three birdies on three par fours and four bogeys with two of them coming on par fives for her round of 73. Haas, who started the day one stroke behind the leaders, had four birdies and four bogeys for her even par 72, one of just two even-par or better rounds in the field of 40 golfers.
As a team, the Irish came up just one stroke short of defending their 2011 BIG EAST title as the University of South Florida won its first conference title with a 54-hole mark of 46-over par 910 (298-306-306). The Bulls entered the final day of play with a five-stroke lead over Notre Dame and held off the Irish with a final-round 306 to Notre Dame’s 302. The Irish finished with a 911 total (296-313-302) for the three rounds.
Louisville finished third overall with a 918 total, closing the gap on the top two finishers with a final round of 295, for the best team round of the tournament. The Cardinals opened with rounds of 312 and 311.
Rounding out the top five in the BIG EAST Championship were Seton Hall and Rutgers. The Pirates finished fourth with a three-day total of 943 (314-317-312) while the Scarlet Knights were fifth with a 956 mark (311-324-321).
Besides Armstrong, the Irish had two other golfers finish in the top six. Senior Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) was in the battle for the top spot throughout the day and finished in fifth with a 10-over par total of 226 (74-78-74). Huffer got off to a fast start in the final round with four birdies in her first 10 holes and was three-under par through 10 and had moved into second overall before suffering three double bogeys in the final eight holes around one more birdie for her two-over final round of 74.
For Huffer, this was her second top-five finish as she was fourth in the 2011 BIG EAST Championship.
Right behind the senior, was sophomore Kristina Nhim (Cypress, Calif.) who tied for sixth with a 12-over par total of 228 with South Florida’s Kelli Pry, a first-round co-leader. Nhim fired a final round of four-over par 76 to go with a 74 and 78 for her 228. In her first BIG EAST Championship appearance last April, Nhim finished third as a freshman.
The Irish got a strong performance on Tuesday from senior Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz.) who figured into the scoring with her seven-over par 79. She finished in a tie for 24th overall with a three-round total of 242 after a 78 on Sunday and an 85 on Monday.
Freshman Kelli Oride (Lihue, Hawaii) tied for 19th in the tournament with a 54-hole total of 22-over par 238. She shot a final round of 11-over par 83 after rounds of 75 and 80 to open the tournament.
Notre Dame and Georgetown are the only teams to compete in all 10 BIG EAST Tournaments. The Irish won the crown four times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2011), finished second four times and third twice since the tournament started in 2003.
The Irish will now have to wait until April 30th at 9:00 p.m. for the NCAA women’s golf selection show to see if they will be selected for one of the three NCAA Regional Tournaments to be held the weekend of May 10-12. A total of 72 teams and 18 individuals will be selected to play at the three sites.
TEAM RESULTS (54-hole totals): 1. South Florida 298-306-306-910; 2. Notre Dame 296-313-302-911; 3. Louisville 312-311-295-918; 4. Seton Hall 314-317-312-943; 5. Rutgers 311-324-321-956; 6. St. John’s 314-330-316-960 7. Cincinnati 315-327-320-962; 8. Georgetown 319-324-324-967.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (of 40): ** 1. Ashley Armstrong (Notre Dame) 73-77-73-223; 2. Emily Haas (Louisville) 74-77-72-223; 3. Christina Miller (South Florida) 78-73-73-224; 4. Katie Petrino (Louisville) 77-77-71-225; 5. Becca Huffer (Notre Dame) 74-78-74-226; t6. Kristina Nhim (Notre Dame) 74-78-76-228; Kelli Pry (South Florida) 73-79-76-228; t8. Shena Yang (South Florida) 74-78-77-229; Kortnie Maxoutpouli (Rutgers) 75-78-76-229; 10. Amy West (South Florida) 74-76-80-230.