NORMAN, Okla. — Texas Tech’s quest to return to the NCAA Championships for the third time in the last five years fell just short Wednesday as the Red Raiders closed the Norman Regional in seventh place at the Jimmy Austin OU Golf Club.
The Red Raiders, who needed to finish among the top six teams in order to advance, combined for a 5-over-par 293 that dropped Tech to 10-over for the tournament and three strokes back of Ole Miss in sixth place and six behind Arizona State in fifth.
“I thought the team played hard,” Tech head coach JoJo Robertson said. “They knew exactly what they had to do to start the day. We got off to a slow start again, but we fought hard until the end. It’s a shame to come up three shots short.”
Tech entered the round, which was delayed three hours due to morning thunderstorms, tied with the Rebels for sixth place, a position the two schools flipped back and forth between throughout the afternoon. Tech was also tied with Arizona State late in the round.
Anna Dong provided Tech with a much-needed boost down the stretch as she sank a long par putt at the par-3 2nd, her third-to-last hole, before draining a birdie at the par-4 3rd. Dong also added birdies at the par-4 9th and the par-5 18th earlier in the round as part of a 1-under 71 card.
The strong finish was part of an impressive regional debut for Dong, who was Tech’s highest individual finisher at 2-under for the tournament and in a tie for seventh place. Dong, who was even or better over all three rounds this week, fell just shy of advancing to nationals as an individual.
“Anna has been awesome, and she’s worked so hard to get to this point,” Robertson said of the freshman. “We knew from day one of her coming on campus that she was going to be a great player. It was just a matter of putting it all together and getting her to relax a little bit out there. This is a sign of what’s to come over the next three years.”
Sofia Garcia led the Red Raiders with four birdies over the final round, including two over her first five holes. She posted a 1-over score that moved her to even for the 54-hole event and in a tie for 15th place individually.
Louisa Brunt and Mami Yamamoto added 2-over and 3-over rounds, respectively, to close out Tech’s card, while Cecilie Nielsen rebounded at 4-over during the final 18 holes. It was the first over-par round of the week for Yamamoto as she finished 3-over and in a tie for 31st.
Robertson returns all but one member of her regional lineup, which was among the youngest nationally this year. The lone exception is Yamamoto, who closes her Tech tenure with a 75.1 career stroke average, which ranks eighth all-time in program history.
“Mami’s been great,” Robertson said. “She’s going to be hard to replace. It’s kind of nice when you have somebody who has been around for four years and you can count on them. Every time we’re on the course, we always know Mami has it taken care of. She’s as steady as can be and fights so hard. We’ll definitely miss her for sure.”
Texas cruised to the regional title as the Longhorns combined to shoot 2-under as a team Wednesday for a nine-stroke advantage over second place Wake Forest. Florida, Purdue, Arizona State and Ole Miss rounded out the remaining advancing teams.
(Courtesy: Texas Tech Sports Communications Department)