The Ducks navigated perhaps the most challenging day of golf in their lives Tuesday, winning two match-play battles at the NCAA Championship tournament and advancing to Wednesday’s tournament final. The No. 2-ranked UO women will face No. 1 Stanford for the national championship at Grayhawk Golf Club, with the first pairing going off the No. 1 tee at 1:35 p.m.
Oregon reached the first national final in program history by winning the first semifinal matchup in program history Tuesday afternoon. After beating San Jose State in the quarterfinals Tuesday morning, the Ducks came back to face Texas A&M in the afternoon, and they ended up posting their second 4-1 margin of victory on the day.
The Ducks would then turn their attention to facing Stanford on Wednesday, but not before celebrating the history they’ve already made this season — including Tuesday.
“We’ll let this one sink in, yeah,” UO coach Derek Radley said. “It’s been a long day, and match play takes a lot out of you. Credit to San Jose State this morning and Texas A&M this afternoon — absolutely incredible programs. We knew we had to bring our best game and we did.”
Ching-Tzu Chen, Briana Chacon, Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu and Tze-Han (Heather) Lin all won both of their matches Tuesday, with Lu provided the clinching point in both matchups. Her par at the par-3 16th hole Tuesday afternoon clinched a 3&2 victory and the team win over Texas A&M, just moments before Lin halved her matchup at No. 17 to win 2&1.
“I think it’s good to celebrate a little bit, get that out of your system,” Chacon said. “But we still have work to do tomorrow and we’ve got to get ready and be prepared for that. We are just so excited and so thankful to be here, and it’s just a really exciting time for all of us because we’ve worked so hard the entire year for this point and it’s all paid off so far.”
Both Chacon and Lu never trailed in their afternoon matches Tuesday, and Lu won her opening hole to win wire-to-wire. Chacon won consecutive holes at No. 2 and No. 3 to take the lead in her matchup, then won three straight beginning at No. 8 to make it a commanding lead.
Chen fought back from a couple of early deficits before winning both No. 11 and No. 12 to take the lead for good. Lin also won at No. 12 to take the lead in her matchup, while Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen was on No. 18 looking to square her matchup when the Ducks clinched.
Chen was the first player on the course in both matchups Tuesday, tasked with giving the Ducks momentum.
“I was telling ‘Coach D’ that I really wanted to go first,” Chen said. “I know the other four have got my back, which makes me feel better, and I also like going to a zone where they can count on me too.”
Both matches finished in similar fashion as well, with Oregon’s senior, Lin, racing with her teammate and the reigning Pac-12 Champion, Lu, to clinch the win.
“With our team, obviously anybody could have done it, but to have those two on the back end like that, there’s full belief in them and their capabilities to close it out,” Radley said.
Now, it will be the Ducks and Cardinal with the national championship on the line.
“Obviously they’ve been ranked No. 1 all year, but we’ve had an incredible season as well,” Radley said. “And we have firm belief in our players that we can accomplish anything. So it’s going to be a tall task, but we’re up for the challenge.”