SAN FRANCISCO (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Ole Miss women’s golf team once again made history, earning a berth in the NCAA Championship for the first time in the program’s 32-year history on Wednesday at TPC Harding Park.
Led by a stellar 5-under (67) round by SEC Freshman of the Year Julia Johnson, Ole Miss shot 2-under in Round 3 to finish at 1-under par for the tournament (290-287-286--863). The Rebels finished six strokes ahead of the sixth-place cutline in third place, trailing only No. 5 Stanford and No. 1 UCLA.
“It was absolutely incredible to see all the girls pull through,” said head coach Kory Henkes. “Everyone just stayed calm, cool and collected and came out and did what we needed to do today. To finish third in this strong field—it’s amazing.”
Ole Miss entered the day in a tie for fourth and closed with its strongest round of the tournament. The Rebels were solid from top to bottom once again, finishing with all five players inside the top 50 and with all 15 of their individual rounds 2-over par or better.
As she has all season, Johnson dominated the day, coming through with the best round of her career in the biggest round of her career, including a birdie on No. 18 to apply the finishing touches to the Rebel triumph. Thanks to her final-round 67, she wrapped up a tournament score of 210, one stroke off her career-best, to finish tied for third.
“It was fun today,” Johnson said. “It was a little bit less pressure, just because this could’ve been the last round of the year. My goal was just to go out and have fun. I know everyone says that, but I really did have fun today. Coach Kory never really left my side, and I loved that. Anytime she does that for me, I know we’re going to put a good round up.”
Continuing her remarkable season, the freshman out of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, finished ahead of three of the top five players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, UCLA’s Lilia Vu (No. 1), and Stanford’s Albane Valenzuela (No. 4) and Andrea Lee (No. 5).
“It was one of those days where it could’ve been a 64,” Henkes said. “That’s how good she was. Her ball striking just top-notch. I was really proud of Julia. She has a lot of grit. When it’s time to get things done, she really knows how to do it.”
Conner Beth Ball, who joined Johnson on this year’s SEC All-Freshman Team, shot even par on the final day to finish tied for 27th. Ball fired three birdies to overcome a double-bogey on No. 11 and wrapped up the tournament at 2-over. The Rebels had just two double-bogeys on the tournament.
Senior Katy Harris finished T27 as well, birdying her final hole to finish 1-over and all-but seal the deal for the Rebels. Beginning on the 10th hole in Round 2, Harris played 24 straight holes bogey-free, going 2-under par in that span.
Pi-Lillebi Hermansson and Kie Purdom each shot 2-over on the final day to tie for the final counting score. Hermansson was 1-over (217) for the tournament, one stroke off her career-best, and finished tied for 22nd. Purdom led the field with 46 pars, including 23 straight at one point, and finished 6-over and tied for 48th, carding 2-over rounds on all three days of the tournament.
“It’s been the most unbelievable year,” Johnson said. “For everyone to play well this week and have good rounds is amazing. It’s been amazing year for us. I wouldn’t have wanted it to end here. It’s going to end where we want it to end—and hopefully on the last day.”
Behind the tremendous team effort, the Rebels are bound for the NCAA Championships for the first time ever. The tournament runs May 18-23 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
- Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history.
- The Rebels recorded their best finish ever at an NCAA Regional, smashing their previous best of 12th.
- The Rebels’ three rounds stand as their three best ever in NCAA Regional history, and their final score of 863 is 43 strokes better than their previous record.
- Julia Johnson’s third-place finish is the best in school history. The previous best stood at T18.
- Johnson’s final-round 67 and her tournament score of 210 are both program records for an NCAA Regional.
- Ole Miss led the tournament with 199 pars.
- The Rebels were the best team in the field on par 3s at 1-over for the tournament.
- Ole Miss is one of five SEC teams to advance to NCAAs. The Rebels are the second-lowest ranked team behind No. 44 Ohio State to make it through regionals.
T3. Julia Johnson 71-72-67--210 (-6)
T22. Pi-Lillebi Hermansson 73-70-74--217 (+1)
T27. Katy Harris 73-72-73--218 (+2)
T27. Conner Beth Ball 73-73-72--218 (+2)
T48. Kie Purdom 74-74-74--222 (+6)
1. #5 Stanford: 287-287-282--856 (-8)
2. #1 UCLA: 280-295-285--860 (-4)
3. #40 Ole Miss: 290-287-286--863 (-1)
4. #32 Louisville: 287-294-283--864 (E)
5. #16 Kent State: 284-290-291--865 (+1)
6. #26 Colorado: 284-298-287--869 (+5)
T7. #17 Oklahoma State: 291-289-290--870 (+6)
T7. #46 San Diego State: 289-294-287--870 (+6)
9. #24 North Carolina: 289-292-290--871 (+7)
10. #9 South Carolina: 296-289-288--873 (+9)
11. #50 Pepperdine: 297-285-294--876 (+12)
12. #43 California: 297-292-290--879 (+15)
13. #33 North Carolina State: 296-296-291--883 (+19)
14. Oregon: 287-290-308--885 (+21)
15. Princeton: 305-299-297--901 (+37)
16. Long Beach State: 304-304-297--905 (+41)
17. Grand Canyon: 306-306-300--912 (+48)
18. Fairleigh Dickinson: 315-313-309--937 (+73)
2018 NCAA Championship Field
#40 Ole Miss
#16 Kent State
#28 Florida State
#18 Wake Forest
#12 Arizona State
#44 Ohio State
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