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Stanford Wins Second NCAA DI Women’s Golf Championship in 3 Years

Stanford wins the 2024 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship 3-2-0.

First seed Stanford came to Carlsbad, Calif., with one goal: win their third NCAA Championship. And win, they did.

Coach Anne Walker has created arguably the strongest women’s golf program in the college landscape. With depth in talent and age, Walker has built a machine that cranks out wins; just look at today and then think about the four incoming freshmen (all top-ranked in the world).

However, to counteract the image that a machine can conjure, it should be noted that Walker emphasizes her philosophy is to be “human first.” Whatever she’s doing is working, as the team refers to each other as sisters and each player seems to genuinely cheer for one another no matter how she’s playing herself. That’s tough to come by in an inherently individual sport.

UCLA's Caroline Canales won her match against Paul Martin Sampedro.
UCLA’s Caroline Canales won her match against Paul Martin Sampedro. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

While freshman Paula Martin Sampedro and senior Sadie Engelmann lost their matches to UCLA’s Caroline Canales and Zoe Antoinette Campos, respectively, the rest of the Stanford team stepped up and won the three points needed to claim the trophy.

Stanford senior Sadie Engelmann won a clutch match yesterday to bring her team to the finals today.
Stanford senior Sadie Engelmann won a clutch match yesterday to bring her team to the finals today. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Sampedro had a memorable first appearance at the NCAA Championships, placing 3rd individually. Engelmann also won one of the key matches yesterday that advanced Stanford to the finals. That’s what Walker meant about depth and “success by committee” – everyone plays their part well and can lean on their teammates. After all, humans can’t be “on” all the time.

Kelly Xu won all three of her matches in the NCAA quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Kelly Xu won all three of her matches in the NCAA quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Sophomore Kelly Xu started strong, winning her first two holes against UCLA’s Meghan Royal, and ultimately winning 3&2. She has proven to be a strong match play competitor and will be a great asset for Walker and the program in the coming years.

Megha Ganne won her match against UCLA's Natalie Vo.
Megha Ganne won her match against UCLA’s Natalie Vo. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Fellow sophomore Megha Ganne battled through the 16th hole, where she won the match through a beautiful shot into the green and a concession from UCLA’s Natalie Vo after she had trouble in the bunkers.

The Stanford women's golf team runs to Heck to celebrate their NCAA Championship win.
The Stanford women’s golf team runs to Heck to celebrate their NCAA Championship win. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

The team then ran from the 16th green back around the lake to the 15th green just in time to see senior Rachel Heck lag a putt close enough to the hole to win her match and the final point needed to secure the National Championship title.

Rachel Heck was pin hunting today, allowing her to win the final match point for Stanford.
Rachel Heck was pin hunting today, allowing her to win the final match point for Stanford. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Heck was on fire today, going 3 up in 4 holes against UCLA’s Kate Villegas, and continuously shooting at the pin. After a rollercoaster of a collegiate career alternating between wins and injuries, Heck was able to pull through for herself and her team and deliver the victorious moment. Walker comments, “It’s like it was scripted to be that way.”

Stanford Coach Anne Walker and senior Rachel Heck embrace after an emotional win.
Stanford Coach Anne Walker and senior Rachel Heck embrace after an emotional win. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

UCLA was a tough competitor today, and it really did come down to one match. To have Coach Alicia Um Holmes, in her first year as head coach, bring her team to the finals is quite an accomplishment. She not only played at UCLA but also went on to be an assistant coach under Carrie Forsyth; she said that Forsyth created a strong foundation, but she wants to add more strategy to it. Clearly, it’s working, and the young team will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

UCLA's Zoe Campos also won her match against Sadie Engelmann today.
UCLA’s Zoe Campos also won her match against Sadie Engelmann today. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Stanford has been a household name in the golf world the last few years thanks to Rose Zhang’s dominance in the last two NCAA Championships, winning both individual titles. Coming in as the first seed made Stanford a target, but they still thrived under the pressure. To win their second title in three years (2022) proves their team has unlimited talent – and potential.

Coach Anne Walker hoists the NCAA Championship trophy up for the second time in three years.
Coach Anne Walker hoists the NCAA Championship trophy up for the second time in three years. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.
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