Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Arkansas senior Maria Fassi wins NCAA championship on home course
Arkansas golfer Maria Fassi celebrates on the 18th green during the NCAA Women's Golf Championships on Monday, May 20, 2019, at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville. Fassi shot a 5-under 68 in the final round of stroke play to earn the individual national title - the Razorbacks' first since Stacy Lewis in 2007.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas senior Maria Fassi became the Razorbacks' second female golfer to win an individual national championship Monday.
She was Arkansas' first to do it on her home course.
Fassi overcame windy conditions and a weather delay to shoot a bogey-free, 5-under 68 in the final round of individual play at the NCAA Women's Golf Championships at Blessings Golf Club. She had a 54-hole score of 8-under 211.
Fassi finished four strokes ahead of runner-up Sierra Brooks of Florida. Arizona's Bianca Pagdanganan, who was one of Fassi's playing partners Monday, finished third at 2 under and Texas' Hailee Cooper was fourth at 1 under.
Of the 132 golfers who made the championship, 127 had a 54-hole score above par.
Fassi's 68 Monday was the second-lowest score by an individual this week. Brooks shot a 67 in the second round.
Fassi's final round included five birdies, including three on the front nine. She had birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 sixth and 12th, and par-3 eighth.
Brooks was the clubhouse leader at 4 under after tapping in for par of the 18th hole, but Fassi quickly took command of the lead with her birdie on the sixth hole and extended her lead to three strokes when play was stopped at 4:20 p.m. because of lightning in the area.
Following a 1 hour, 38-minute delay, Fassi made par on Nos. 13-15 and 17-18, and birdied the par-4 16th.
Winds gusting between 20-30 mph made the course difficult for most golfers Monday. Eight of the top 14 on the leaderboard were over par at the time of the suspension and three others were even.
Monday was the final day of stroke play and eight teams will advance to match play Tuesday. A team champion will be crowned Wednesday.
Arkansas is fourth at 24 over for the tournament and will make it into Tuesday's match play. The Razorbacks are 18 shots back of first-place Texas at 6 over.
Auburn is in eighth place at 37 over with golfers still on the course. Illinois is in the clubhouse, ninth at 41 over.
Fassi won the individual championship one year after a disappointing finish at the NCAAs. The winner of an NCAA-record six tournaments and recipient of the ANNIKA Award as the best college golfer as a junior, Fassi finished 66th at Karsten Creek Country Club in Stillwater, Okla., last May.
Fassi is Arkansas' first individual champion since Stacy Lewis won the 2007 NCAA championship at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Lewis and Fassi both played under the Razorbacks' longtime women's coach Shauna Taylor.
Fassi is the third female to win a championship on her home course, and first since New Mexico's Caroline Keggi in 1987.
Fassi is the third individual golf champion from the University of Arkansas. R.H. Sikes won the only individual championship in the history of the Razorbacks' men's program in 1963 at Wichita (Kan.) Country Club.
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