No. 3 Alabama had to overcome adversity, but the Crimson Tide women’s golf team proved up to the task in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga., defeating sixth-ranked UCLA as Bama claimed its third championship of the year.
The match play round for the title did not start well for Alabama, but the Crimson Tide got individual wins from sophomore Lakareber Abe, sophomore Nicole Morales, and senior Emma Talley on the par-72, 6,365-yard University of Georgia Golf Course to take a 3-2 win and the championship.
"It was a great week for the team for a couple of reasons," Coach Mic Potter said. "First is that we had to overcome some adversity in both the stroke play round and all of the match play rounds. The girls kept fighting and never gave up. Secondly, it was great preparation for the national championship format. In some ways, the format is more difficult because there is only one stroke play qualifying round, which produces immense pressure that we will surely experience at nationals."
Alabama won the title at the Liz Murphey for the fourth time, also winning the event in 1976, 2011 and 2012. It is also the Tide’s third victory this season, adding to the Mason Rudolph Championship crown won in the fall and the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate title won earlier this spring.
UCLA took the first match, as Lilia Vu held off a late charge by senior Janie Jackson to win 3-and-2. Jackson recorded five birdies but Vu was above par on only three of the 16 holes and fired an eagle on hole No. 9. Abe responded with a round that included two birdies and 10 pars to defeat Lydia Choi 3-and-2.
UCLA’s Bethany Wu took the lead over freshman Cheyenne Knight after the second hole and never surrendered it, finishing 1-up. Knight had one more birdie, but also one more bogey.
Talley and UCLA’s Hadas Libman both struggled through the first few holes, but Talley would birdie three holes in the middle of the match to pull away, winning by 5-and-4. Morales fell behind by two through three holes, but only made one bogey compared to three birdies over the remaining 15 to move in front by as many as three and close out Louise Ridderstrom 2-and-1.
"It's hard to single out any of the players because all five played a huge part in this win, but Emma Talley shot 71 in stroke play and was dominant in match play, going 3-0," Potter added. "It was one of her best tournaments this year."
The Tide returns to action in Tempe, Ariz., for the PING/ASU Invitational April 8-10.