JOHNSON — Arkansas’ dream of adding its first NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament team championship to its second individual winner of the NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament ended in Tuesday’s inclement weather delayed first round of match play at the tournament that Arkansas hosts at The Blessings course.
Coach Shauna Taylor's Razorbacks, with senior Maria Fassi on Monday joining 2007 NCAA Women’s Tournament winner become LPGA great Stacy Lewis as UA individual champions, and as a team advancing among the 24 teams to a fourth-place finish among the top eight qualified for the match play rounds determining the national championship team, lost, 3-2 Tuesday to No. 5 stroke play team Wake Forest on a long rain and lightning delayed day finished in the evening.
Play was halted at 10:10 a.m. and not resumed until 4:20 p.m.
Fassi, taking her lead on the 14th hole, won her match 2&1 over Wake’s Vanessa Knecht, and Arkansas freshman Brooke Matthews of Rogers rallied on the back nine to win her match 1-up over Letizia Bagnoli.
Arkansas’ Dylan Kim lost 1 up to Siyun Lu. Arkansas freshman Ximena Gonzalez lost 6&4 to Emilio Migliacco.
The outcome ultimately hinged on Arkansas’ No. 2 player, senior Kaylee Benton rallying from down three after nine holes, carding a birdie on No. 17, extending Jennifer Kupcho, Wake’s winner of the prestigious August Amateur, to the final hole for a match winning birdie.
Fassi acknowledged on her interview Tuesday post match interview with Fayetteville native and former Lady Razorback golfer Lisa Cornwell on The Golf Channel that the emotions drained from winning Monday’s national championship drained her a bit at Tuesday’s outset.
“I think this morning wasn’t how I wish I would have felt,” Fassi said. “I was a little bit tired and had a hard time going to bed last night. But I tried to get warmed up and played four holes and then got pulled off the golf course. We had to wait for a little bit and I had a slow start. But really excited that I was able to come through and get a point for the team.”
Also on The Golf Channel, Matthews was asked about rallying from Bagnoli’s hole in one on No. 17 for her match-winning birdie on the last hole.
“I knew I wasn’t going to match that (the hole in one) so I just had to move on and get the next one,” Matthews said. “I knew I had to hit a good shot and I did it.”
Matthews and Gonzalez are Arkansas’ lone entrants from this 2019 NCAA Tournament returning for the UA’s 2020 spring season.
Fassi, Benton and Kim all are seniors who played their final Arkansas match in the first NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament everI hosted by Arkansas.
In the other matches Tuesday, Auburn, the eighth and last qualifier in stroke play, upset stroke play leader Texas, 3-2.
Defending national champion Arizona defeated the University of Southern California, 3-2, and Duke defeated Stanford, 3-2.
Before the inclement weather, which already because of Saturday afternoon’s storms shortened stroke play from 72 to 54 holes.
The NCAA Men’s Tournament, also Arkansas hosted and also at The Blessings, begins Friday its four days and 72 holes of stroke play with match play quarterfinals next Monday, semifinals Tuesday and the championship match May 28.
Coach Brad McMakin’s Razorbacks men won the SEC but did not advance as a full-team out of the Austin, Texas Regional.
However Arkansas freshman Julian Perico of Lima, Peru did qualify individually out of Austin to be in Friday’s stroke play field.