The Commodores entered today's round four shots behind 2002 NCAA Preview champion Arizona who owned a two-round total of 583. VU started the day with a 587.
"We started out the day knowing that we needed to play our golf," Vanderbilt Head Coach Martha Freitag said. "If we took care of our business, we knew we would be in contention."
The Commodores shot rounds of 302-285-291 on the way to the championship. The Commodores put together a solid second round and finished the first day (two rounds) in second place with a score of 11-over-par 587. After a first-round round of 302 left them in third place, the Commodores took flight in the second round with a 285 - the lowest round for any team - and narrowed Arizona's lead to four shots.
Three Commodores finished in the Top 5, including individual champion Courtney Wood who started the final round four shots out of the lead. Wood shot a 69 in the final round to total a 214 (77-68-69, -2) and win the title by two shots. Wood finished the first day with a 77 and 23rd place finish. She followed that with a tournament best round of 68 to move up to second place entering the final round.
"We just weren't ready for the first round," Wood said. "I got off to a bad start and then played well after the second hole and then faded again. This course played tough with the wind coming in the opposite direction. We didn't adjust quickly to the cool temperature."
Arizona's Erica Blasberg, who began the day in first place, shot a 75 in the final round to finish in sole possession of second place with a 216 (72-69-75, E).
Vanderbilt freshman May Wood totaled 221 (76-72-73, +5) for a fourth place finish and Sarah Jacobs shot a 222 (73-75-74, +6) for a tie in fifth place. Nicki Cutler finished in 13th place (79-70-77=226, +10), followed by Joni Gossett in 22nd place (76-78-75=229, +13).
"Courtney (Wood) just played fantastic and Sarah (Jacobs) was so consistent all three rounds," Freitag added. May (Wood) birdied two of the last four holes, Joni (Gossett) shot a 75 today and Nicki (Cutler) shot a 70 yesterday — It took the entire team to win this tournament."
The Mason Rudolph Championship Tournament 14-team field boasted five teams ranked in the Golfweek Top 25 Poll.
"I want to win against great teams," Freitag said. "If you want to win championships, you have to learn how to win against the best teams in the country and our schedule provides that for us."
The last tournament title for Vanderbilt was during the 1995-96 season when the Commodores finished first in a 19-team field at the College of Charleston Invitational.
The Commodores return to action Oct. 18-20 at the Stanford-Pepsi Women's Intercollegiate in Palo Alto, Calif.