Mehaffey and Foster through to NCAA match play

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Mehaffey and Foster through to NCAA match play

Olivia Mehaffey (Photo by Jan Kruger/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Olivia Mehaffey’s Arizona State side survived and advanced to the match play stages in the NCAA Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club after a plucky performance on Monday. Arizona State qualified as the No. 7 seed and will matchup with No. 2-seed Duke starting at 6:20 AM MST on hole one.

“It was a stressful day that required a lot of scoreboard watching, but we are grateful to be advancing to match play,” Head Coach Missy Farr-Kaye said. “This is the stage we wanted to get to all along and we are excited for the challenge of playing a very talented Duke team.”

Four-time All-American Mehaffey was huge when her team needed her the most, capping her round with a clutch birdie putt. The Royal County Down and Tandragee amateur, who is set to turn professional later this month on the Symetra Tour, was delighted to achieve an early-season goal of making it to the knockouts. 

“Very excited to get into match play tomorrow, this has been our teams goal since the start of the year,” Mehaffey said, who will hope to improve on her final round 77 after finishing 53rd on the individual leaderboard. “To have the opportunity tomorrow to play match play is amazing. Everyone is very excited to get going.”

Freshman Ashley Menne was outstanding in her first NCAA Championship, proving to be one of the best in the loaded 132-golfer field. Menne finished in fourth place thanks to a strong ending, the highest finish by a Sun Devil at NCAA’s since Monica Vaughn won the Individual Title back in 2017.

“Ashley Menne had some clutch birdies today, most importantly the last two holes,” Coach Farr-Kaye complimented. “For a freshman to do that with so much pressure, it speaks to her maturity and comfort in the spotlight. Ashley finished fourth as an individual, which is a tremendous accomplishment. I can tell you she is not done succeeding at this golf course.”.

All five Sun Devils and Blue Devils will square off in a match play style best out of five battle to decide who advances to the semi-finals with Mehaffey set to take on Duke’s Gina Kim in match one.

Meanwhile Elm Park’s Anna Foster also has the match play stages to look forward to after helping her Auburn Tigers team to sixth place on the ladder. The Freshman finished up at 15-over (303) but should come into her own in the match play stages given her upbringing in golf on the Irish amateur scene. The Tigers finished with a 10-under 278 on the day and concluded stroke play in sixth place overall (+18, 1170).

“They were so impressive today,” head coach Melissa Luellen said, “They have tons of grit and tons of believe. We’re a really talented team and they’ve all shot low before. It’s so fun to see them do it at the same time. This is just so sweet.”

Starting the day 11 shots back of eighth, Auburn’s 278 pushed the team up eight spots to secure its spot for Tuesday. It was the low round of the day among the 15 teams competing and set a program record at the NCAA Championship, besting the previous mark of 285.

The Tigers will face No. 3 seed Oklahoma State in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Action kicks off at 6:20 a.m. local time, while the Golf Channel broadcast is set for 11 a.m. CT.

“We’re going to stick with the game plan for Tuesday,” Luellen said. “This team loves match play so we’re looking forward to the next step.”

Lurgan’s Annabel Wilson finished one shot ahead of Mehaffey in a tie for 51st at nine-over but her UCLA side could only finish 15th in the team standings, failing to qualifying for the quarters. Lauren Walsh (Wake Forest) finished down the board at 15-over as Wake Forest ended their NCAA bid in 12th overall.

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