Brian Brownfield / Stanford Athletics
Women's Golf

NCAA Champs

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CARLSBAD, Calif. – Stanford captured its second NCAA women's golf championship in three years by beating UCLA, 3-2, on Wednesday at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. 

Taking advantage of a quick start, Stanford's three winners led from start to finish in the final round of match play on the par-72, Omni La Costa North Course.

With the team score tied, 2-2, UCLA's Kate Villegas was unable to convert a long putt for birdie, clinching the match to Stanford's Rachel Heck, who carried out a 4&3 victory. 

"That is Rachel Heck for you. She deserves that, but it's also like it was scripted to be that way," said Margot and Mitch Milias Director of Women's Golf, Anne Walker. "I'm kind of not surprised and she is a heck of a lag putter. For anyone else to be in that front left part of the green, it would have been a little tough. But for Rachel to roll it so close, it was great. It wasn't by accident we decided to put Rachel in that last spot. She is a mature kid, and it takes a lot to rattle her."

This was the third NCAA team title under coach Anne Walker. She won her first for the Cardinal in 2015. 

Stanford now owns 136 NCAA team championships (71 men, 65 women) and 166 national team championships overall. Stanford has won at least one NCAA team championship during each of the last 48 academic years, dating back to the 1976-77 campaign. Last month, the Cardinal captured its fifth consecutive NCAA title in men's gymnastics.

Of Stanford's 136 NCAA championships, 35 have been won by fall sports, 33 by winter sports and 68 by spring sports. And since 2000, Stanford has captured 60 NCAA team crowns. 

On the opening hole, Stanford took leads in four matches and never trailed. Only one of those matches changed leads. However, Stanford held multiple-hole leads in three matches from the ninth hole until the end. 

Kelly Xu provided Stanford with its first point. She won each hole from the seventh through ninth to extend her lead from one to four. She closed out her 4&3 victory over Meghan Royal at 5:52 p.m. 

After UCLA tied the team score, 1-1, Stanford's Megha Ganne essentially clinched the match against Natalie Vo. With Heck's huge lead, it was the only one that might be in question, with Ganne holding a two-hole lead.

However, on her 16th hole, Vo hit into a bunker while Ganne drove to the green. When Vo's second shot went into another bunker, Ganne was able to secure a 3&2 victory.

Though UCLA tied the score at 2-2, there was no drama, because Heck was in position to put it away at 6:16 p.m. With that, the Cardinal became NCAA champions.

"It's unreal, and I'm honestly speechless," Heck said during the Stanford celebration. "This is the moment that kept me going through the injuries, just picturing this. The fact that it happened is absolutely unreal."

Stanford made a bit of history in winning the NCAA women's golf championship on Wednesday. Since the NCAA switched the championship to match play format, Stanford is the only program to win an NCAA championship after entering match play as the No. 1 (the Cardinal also did this in 2022). It is also the team's third title since 2015, the most among women's golf programs dating back to 2008. Stanford is also the only team to win multiple NCAA championships during the match play era.
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NCAA Match Play Championship
At Omni La Costa North Course

Stanford 3, UCLA 2

(Order of finish)
Kelly Xu (Stanford) d. Meghan Royal, 4&3, Stanford 1-0.
Zoe Antoinette Campos (UCLA) d. Sadie Englemann, 4&3, tied 1-1
Megha Ganne (Stanford) d. Natalie Vo, 3&2, Stanford 2-1
Caroline Canales (UCLA) d. Paula Martin Sampedro, 2 up, tied 2-2
Rachel Heck (Stanford) d. Kate Villegas, 4&3, Stanford 3-2