Women's Golf Finishes As National Runnerup

Auburn, Wash.--The top-ranked Auburn women's golf team made a strong comeback by shooting a one-under-par 287 in the final round but came up short of winning the NCAA Women's Golf Championship, finishing in a tie for second.

The Tigers finished six strokes behind second-ranked Duke at the par-72, 6,273-yard Washington National Golf Club at the four-day, 72-hole event that ended on Friday evening. Three Tigers earned All-America honors and Coach Kim Evans was honored.

After trailing by as many as 17 strokes earlier in the week, the Tigers made a strong run the final two days of the tournament and got to as close as three shots in the final round before the Blue Devils pulled away for the win.

The runnerup finish with Texas and Arizona is a school record for the Tigers. The previous best was fourth in the 2001 NCAA Women's Golf Championship. The Tigers finished sixth in 2000.

The Blue Devils were in third place entering the final day, three shots behind Arizona, one behind Texas and six ahead of Auburn.

Danielle Downey was named an All-American.

Auburn shot the lowest round of the tournament for the second consecutive day with a one-under 287 after a NCAA championship school record low of three-under 285 on Thursday. Junior All-American Danielle Downey tied for second at four-under-par 284 with a final round even par 72. Her performance established a school record finish in NCAA Championship play.

Senior Courtney Swaim ended her final day of collegiate golf in style by firing a one-under 71, with birdies on her last two holes, including a 45-footer up the hill and across the tier on the 18th green. The Sugar Hill, Ga., native tied for 60th overall at 301 and was also named an All-American.

Junior Celeste Troche, a repeat All-America pick, carded a one-under 71 for a one-over 219 total to tie for 10th.

Kim Evans was honored for Auburn's strong season.

"I am very pleased with our last two days," said Evans, who was named NCAA Women's Golf Coach of the Year. "We left it out there. They responded very well with what they needed to do to win. They continue to amaze me. There are no limitations for them. Courtney, our only senior, showed up big time today and birdied the last two holes. That is a great finish for her."

Diana Ramage putts in the fourth and final round.

Sophomore Diana Ramage had a one-over 73 to finish in a tie for 45th at 298 while SEC Freshman of the Year Kingsley Barrett notched a 75 for a 311 total for 106th.

"We gave it all we had and just ran out of holes," Downey said. "We had nothing to lose these last two days and just came out and did what we had to do. It was fun being in the hunt, and we were so close. We made a great comeback after those first two rounds."

The Tigers found themselves nine shots back entering the final round and unlike the first three rounds, Auburn got off to a fast start and made the turn at even par after turning at 10-over, seven-over and two-over the first three days. Auburn closed to within seven shots on the front nine of leader Arizona, fell behind by 10 making the turn and closed to within three of the new leader, Duke, pulling even with Arizona on the finishing holes.

Courtney Swaim earned All-American honors for the Tigers.

Texas (294—1,170) and Arizona (296—1,170) tied Auburn for second followed by fifth-place Georgia (1,176), Florida (1,179), Oklahoma (1,179), Ohio State (1,180), Arizona State (1,186), Pepperdine (1,186), Stanford (1,187), Tulsa (1,188), Oklahoma State (1,189), Southern Cal (1,192), California (1,193), Purdue (1,198), Michigan (1,199), Vanderbilt (1,201), Michigan State (1,202), Washington (1,203), UCLA (1,204), Wake Forest (1,206), South Carolina (1,217) and South Florida (1,271).

Duke's Virada Nirapothpongporn won the individual title by leading from start-to-finish with a nine-under 72-279, five shots better than a four-way tie for second with Auburn's Downey (72-284), Arizona's Lorena Ochoa (73-284), Georgia's Summer Sirmons (74-284) and Pepperdine's Lindsey Wright (72—284).

The final event of the year continued an impressive string for the Tigers of finishing either first or second in all 12 tournaments this year.

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