STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- Senior Alice Chen (+4) carded a one-over 73 Monday to tie for 21st and help seventh-ranked Furman to an 11th-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships at the par-72, 6,328 yard Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
Chen, who hails from Princeton, N.J., teed off on No. 10 and birdied No. 12, making the turn at one-over. After turning, she added birdies on No. 6 and again on No. 9, the last hole of her collegiate career. Seventh-ranked Jennifer Kupcho (-8) of Wake Forest won the individual championship with a four-round score of 65-74-70-71=280.
Junior Haylee Harford (+10) paced the Paladins with a 69, including three birdies on the back nine, to finish in a tie for 46th, while senior Reona Hirai (+11) added an even 72 in her last collegiate round, notching three birdies on the front to tie for 48th. Sophomore Natalie Srinivasan (+12) finished one shot behind Hirai, in a tie for 50th after carding a 75 with a birdie on No. 12 on Monday. Senior Jacqueline Bendrick (+23) made consecutive birdies on No. 17 and No. 18, making the turn at two-under, then added an additional birdie on No. 7 to finish the day with a 76, tying for 71st.
"I am so proud of this team for the way they played all year and especially the way they fought back from adversity this week," said Furman head coach Jeff Hull. "We got off to a poor start but kept fighting to the end. Eleventh in the country is a very solid finish, and I can't wait to hopefully improve upon that next year. I can't thank our seniors, Alice, Reona, and Jacqueline, enough for all they have done for me and for Furman women's golf. They will surely be missed."
At the conclusion of stroke play, third-ranked UCLA (+9) and top-ranked Alabama (+9) were tied for first place. No. 6 Southern California (+16) finished third, followed by No. 13 Northwestern (+21) in fourth. Fifth-ranked Stanford (+28) concluded stroke play in sixth place, and fourth-ranked Duke (+30) was sixth. No. 16 Kent State (+32), who joined Furman as the only other non-Power 5 team at the championship, placed seventh, and No. 26 Baylor (+33) and ninth-ranked Arizona (+33) tied for eighth and entered a playoff for the final match-play spot.
The Paladins were part of a 24-team field which played under the NCAA Championship's revised format, which was instituted in 2015. The teams played 54 holes of stroke play over the course of three days, which began Friday and continued through Sunday. The top 15 teams played one additional round of stroke play on Monday. The top eight teams at the end of Monday's round move into the match-play single elimination bracket. Tuesday will feature the quarterfinals and semifinals, and the finals will be played Wednesday afternoon.
Furman, which secured the Southern Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by capturing its 17th SoCon Championship last month at Moss Creek Country Club on Hilton Head Island, S.C., finished third earlier this month at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional to earn a berth at the NCAA Championship. The Paladins finished 12th at least season's NCAA Championship in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information
11 Furman 312 293 294 289 1188 +36
T21 Alice Chen 73 74 72 73 292 +4
T46 Haylee Harford 83 72 74 69 298 +10
T48 Reona Hirai 78 75 74 72 299 +11
T50 Natalie Srinivasan 79 72 74 75 300 +12
T71 Jacqueline Bendrick 82 75 78 76 311 +23