From NYU Athletics
A tournament that started with 25 teams came down to a two-squad competition for most of the final two rounds. And, when the 72nd hole of the four-day tournament was finally complete, it was the New York University women's golf team edging out Williams College for the NCAA Division III National Championship....the first-ever title for Head Coach Brad Johnson and the 12-year-old varsity program.
The National Champion Violets began Friday's final round eight strokes behind Williams, who had leapfrogged NYU to take the lead on Thursday. But, the deficit was erased in historic fashion as NYU posted a combined 294 - tied for the lowest score in NCAA Championship history (Rhodes College set the mark in 2016) - and finished with a total score of 1217, two strokes off the all-time record.
The Violets wound up winning by five strokes over Williams (1222), with Methodist University a distant third (1232). Overall, 25 teams and 131 golfers competed.
"We didn't have any All-Americans this year, not even any Honorable Mention," Johnson explained. "But what we did have was a real team that put forth great effort and dedication all season long."
Despite its deficit heading into the final round, NYU quickly got back into contention by recording 11 birdies over the front nine on Friday. Freshman Arshia Mahant recorded four of those, then began the back nine with her fifth birdie as the Violets edged in front.
Mahant went on to finish her round with a three-under par 69, one stroke off the Championship record. Her performance resulted in a second-place individual finish (297, 82-75-71-69) behind only William's Cordelia Chan (296).
"I started off well with the four birdies, and I knew after that I was going to do the best I could," Mahant said. "We worked hard as a team throughout the season, and I knew we had the potential to do great things."
After NYU grabbed the lead, the back-and-forth jockeying continued as the teams stayed within a stroke or two of each other over the next few holes.
However, the Violets finally put some distance between themselves and their worthy opponents when both senior Patty Treevichaphan and sophomore Navika Kuchakulla birdied the 16th hole. All of a sudden, NYU had a four-stroke advantage. The lead then continued to grow to as many as six strokes as the finish line neared.
"Once we caught them, the momentum shifted," Johnson offered. "I think they got a little tight after giving up a big lead."
The two teams had battled throughout the four-round affair, which was held at the 5,889-yard Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, TX, from Tuesday, May 14 through Friday, May 17.
Williams was two strokes better after the first round (309-311), but NYU rebounded in the second (302-306) to take the lead halfway home.
The Ephs shot a then-tournament-best 300 in the third round, and the Violets' 310 looked to put them out of reach....but they weren't, as their epic final-round performance revealed.
NYU freshman Jessica Wu shot two-over-par 74 on Friday and tied for ninth place overall (304).
Kuchakulla's final-round par-72 lifted her into a tie for 28th place. Treevichaphan (316) tied for 37th.
NYU's other participant, Arisa Kimura (320) tied for 53rd place.
"Even though we needed a big comeback, we always believed there was a chance," Treevichaphan said. "We were upset after the third round, but we knew what our mistakes were and were able to figure it out and overcome them."
The 2019 NCAA Championship marked the fifth consecutive year in which the Violets had qualified for the national competition. The previous four years had all resulted in top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place showing in 2018.
NYU women's golf began competing during the spring of 2008.
This is the third NCAA National Championship for New York University, as the women's basketball team won the title in 1997 and the men's cross country team finished #1 in 2007.