The Vanderbilt Women’s Golf Team won the NCAA Regional at Auburn this week besting the top ranked Duke Blue Devils and the No. 3 see Florida State Seminoles.
The Commodores have had a historic season posting five wins since the Fall, and at one point were ranked the No. 1 team in the land, yet at the SEC Championships two weeks ago, they lost in the first round of match play, an area they have excelled all year.
The early exit, most likely, caused them to fall to a 2-seed for the Regional. Duke, the No. 1 seed got all they bargained for with the No. 6 ranked Commodores, No. 11 Seminoles, No. 13 Auburn Tigers, and No. 17 Virginia Cavaliers. It was a stacked region, and the ‘Dores prevailed with a -4, 860.
The ‘Dores were one of two teams to finish the tournament under par. The first day, they posted a -1 team score, but the second day, they were +5 as a team with a score of 293, putting them in fourth place behind Duke, FSU, Auburn, and UVA.
In the last round, the Commodores shot the lowest team score of the day at -8, 280, overtaking FSU for the lead and felling the top seeded Dukies.
Vanderbilt was carried by Morgan Baxedale who shot 67 (!) on the final day. Baxendale is the No. 4 seed for Commodores and isn’t as heralded as standouts Auston Kim or Abbey Carlson, both of whom have won conference honors this year.
At the SEC Championship, Baxendale struggled through the stroke play portion and lost her match on the 18th green, which ended up being the clincher for Arkansas.
It looked like it could be a similar story for Baxendale, who started the tournament off with a +3 75. She followed up nicely with a -1, 71, the second day, while her teammates Courtney Zeng and Louise Yu shot 80 and 77, respectively.
Then on the last day, Baxendale set the course on fire birdieing her first two holes and then two more before making the turn. She played the back nine even until she reached the 14th hole where she birdied, and then made birdie again on the 16th.
She parred out, where she (and I’m totally making this up) came up the 18th fairway blaring Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music and shotgunning two beers (probably nonalcoholic because NCAA). On the green, she ran off to the side, grabbed a steel chair, and then took out her opponents. A turnbuckle was erected at the corner of the putting surface. She climbed to the top and egged the crowd on as they chanted her name.
Baxendale’s 67, the second lowest score over the three day tournament, vaulted her to a third place individual finish. Her teammate, Auston Kim shot a consistent 70, 70, 70 to take top honors. Kim, the No. 49 ranked player in the NCAA, and Baxendale who is unranked, defeated the No. 2 and No. 9 players Frida Kinhult of FSU and Jaravee Boonchat of Duke.
Earlier this year, after their third or fourth win, I gave a fake quote from Head Coach Greg Allen, where he said, “we are so good.” I haven’t connected with Allen since their Regional win, but for the sake of consistency, let’s just pretend he said the same. Because Vanderbilt is soooo good.