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Gile Bite Starkute’s long putt lifts Arizona women’s golf past No. 1 Stanford, into NCAA semifinals

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

They did it again.

For the third consecutive postseason, Arizona women’s golf is in the final four of its NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats toppled No. 1 seed Stanford 3-2 Tuesday morning at NCAA Championship quarterfinals, as Gile Bite Starkute delivered a 30-foot birdie putt in extra holes to clinch the best-of-five match play competition.

Sisters Yu-Sang Hou and Vivian Hou earned Arizona’s first two points to put the match in Starkute’s hands.

Arizona will play Ole Miss in the semifinals at approximately 2:00 p.m. MST. The event is taking place at Gray Hawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

Starkute, a sophomore from Lithuania, was in control of her match for most of Tuesday, leading after several holes.

Stanford’s All-American sophomore Angelina Ye tied the match entering the 18th hole and seemed to be in sure position to win after Starkute sent a shot out of bounds, causing her to pick up an extra stroke.

Starkute needed four shots on the 18th to find the putting green, whereas Ye needed just three. However, Ye three-putted, giving Starkute a chance to save a four-foot bogey and advance the match.

“On the 18th green, that four-footer was probably the most stressful four-footer of my life,” said Starkute.

The match advanced to an extra round, played on the par-four 10th hole. Starkute and Ye both made the green in two shots, with Starkute landing much closer to the hole.

After a strong birdie attempt from Ye that landed a few feet from the hole, Starkute iced the match with her birdie make.

“As I was going to putt, my coach J (Justin Bubser) just said, ‘make that,’ and I did,” Starkute said. “Just believing that it is possible to make every single putt. And that was needed. We all wanted to move on to the next step, so it felt amazing.”

Earlier in the morning Vivian and Yu-Sang Hou won their matches by scores of 2&1 and 5&3, respectively, while Ya Chun Chang and Therese Warner lost their matches.

Stanford was the odds-on favorite to win the national championship this year after shooting a 10-under across four rounds of stroke play. Arizona, by comparison, shot 21-over in stroke play and nearly missed the quarterfinals.

With Arizona State’s quarterfinals loss to Duke, Arizona is the last Pac-12 program remaining at the NCAA Championship.