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Arizona women’s golf takes fifth place in Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge

LPGA: ANA Inspiration-First Round Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Arizona Wildcats women’s golf team closed out the first tournament of their season in Palos Verdes, California, finishing in fifth place in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, a three-day event hosted by Ohio State.

The Wildcats, who were last year’s NCAA National Champions, were forced to wait longer than anticipated to begin their title defense, after the Los Angeles area had a rare day of heavy rainfall on Sunday, pushing back the scheduled tee time of the event by nearly two hours.

Once proceedings got underway, the wet conditions proved to be challenging for the entire 16 school field, and the play over the first two days was discernibly impacted by the poor weather.

After the conclusion of the first round on Sunday, the lowest team score was a 7-over par from UCLA, and only four athletes from any school were able to finish with an individual score at or under par.

Arizona finished the first round with a team score of 18-over, which saw the Wildcats end the first day in seventh place, 11 strokes back from first-place UCLA.

Yu-Sang Hou was the Wildcats strongest performer on Sunday, shooting a 1-over par (72) which was good for a tie for eighth place at the end of the round. She was also the only athlete in the field to make an eagle on any hole on Sunday.

The unfavorable conditions continued into the next day and Arizona were unable to improve on their place in the team standings, finishing the second round still in 7th place. They did shoot five strokes better than their score from the first day however, finishing 13-over par as a team and 25 strokes back from Stanford, who had jumped into first place.

Hou also continued her strong play on Monday, as the sophomore birdied five different holes and finished the round tied for second place in the individual standings after shooting an even par (71).

Tuesday’s final round ended up being the Wildcats strongest, as Arizona shot a combined score of 1-over par to jump into a tie with Oklahoma State for 5th place overall. They finished with a combined score of +32 for the tournament, which was 17 strokes behind Stanford who claimed the victory.

After shooting an even par (71) in the last round, Hou nearly pulled off a win in the individual standings, finishing just one stroke behind Stanford’s Andrea Lee for first place. It was a very impressive start to the season from Hou, who led the field with 13 birdies over the three rounds and also had the lowest average on par three holes for the tournament.

Senior Haley Moore was the Wildcats second highest finisher in the individual standings after she finished the tournament 7-over par and tied for 16th place. Junior Sandra Nordaas finished tied for 34th at 12-over par and senior Bianca Pagdanganan tied for 41st at 13-over par. Pagdanganan also tied the best round of the week from anyone in the field, after shooting a 68 on Tuesday.

While it was disappointing for Arizona to not start their season off with a win, it was a good sign for the defending national champions that they improved their score with each round, especially after having to play through such adverse conditions on Sunday and Monday.

Hou’s stellar individual performance was also a positive takeaway for the Cats.

Arizona women’s golf is back in action February 18 and 19 when they take place in UNLV’s Rebel Beach Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Here are the final individual and team standings from the season opener:

Arizona Individual Leaderboard

T2. Yu-Sang Hou (+1)

T16. Haley Moore (+7)

T34. Sandra Nordaas (+12)

T41. Bianca Pagdanganan (+13)

Team Leaderboard

1. Stanford (+15)

2. UCLA (+17)

3. USC (+19)

4. Texas (+23)

T5. Arizona (+32)

T5. Oklahoma State (+32)

7. Wake Forest (+37)

8. Furman (+44)

9. Washington (+45)

10. Ohio State (+47)

11. Baylor (+49)

12. Florida State (+51)

13. Florida (+52)

14. Arizona State (+55)

15. Alabama (+61)

16. Colorado (+65)