Cardinal conquer Carlsbad: Women’s golf captures third NCAA Championship

With a 3-2 victory over UCLA, top-ranked Stanford women’s golf secured the NCAA Championship at Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif. on Wednesday. The win marks the Cardinal’s second national championship in three years and third of all time.

“It just doesn’t even feel real. This means the world to me,” said senior Rachel Heck to the Golf Channel on the 18th green.

Heck, the 2021 NCAA individual champion and Annika Award winner, battled injuries and health issues throughout her senior season. On Wednesday, she clinched the final point for the Cardinal, delivering a 4&3 victory over UCLA’s Kate Villegas.

“I was going to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy all the time. I was miserable,” Heck said. “These girls right here are the reason I wanted to keep pushing through.”

Stanford advanced to the final match after defeating Auburn in the quarterfinals and Pac-12 foe USC in the semifinals. Head coach Anne Walker’s lineup consisted of senior Sadie Englemann, sophomores Megha Ganne and Kelly Xu and freshman Paula Martín Sampedro, in addition to Heck.

Xu picked up the first point of the day for Stanford with a 4&3, wire-to-wire victory over Meghan Royal. She posted a perfect match play record for the week, with points against Auburn and USC as well.

Shortly thereafter, Ganne secured the second point for the Cardinal on the par three 16th hole. She bested UCLA’s Natalie Voe 3&2. While UCLA was able to earn points in Englemann and Martín Sampedro’s contests, Heck held a commanding lead in the decisive fifth match.

When Heck lagged her birdie putt close on the 15th hole and Villegas could not convert her putt to extend the match, the championship was over.

“Every player on our roster has contributed this year,” Walker said. “We’ve had great success up and down.” While Ganne, Heck and Xu provided the winning points on Wednesday, it was the team effort and depth of the roster that propelled the Cardinal to the finals.

For the team’s veterans — Englemann, Heck and fifth year Brooke Seay — the victory was the culmination of four years of dominance. In each of the last four seasons, the Cardinal held the No. 1 seed heading into match play at NCAAs.

The NCAA title is Stanford’s 136th in history, the most of all time. In each of the last 48 academic years, Stanford has won at least one NCAA team championship.

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