UBC Women Repeat As NAIA Champions

Sonja Tang Led The UBC Women T'Birds With Her T4 Finish - Image Courtesy UBC/Bushnell Athletics

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

For a while, it looked like it might be close. Turns out, it wasn’t. The University of B.C. women’s golf team rebounded nicely after a second-round hiccup and repeated as NAIA champions with a resounding 29-stroke victory at the TPC Deere Run in Silvas, Ill.

The Thunderbirds did what they were expected to do, which often isn’t as easy as it sounds. They entered the tournament ranked No. 1, but after a poor second round trailed Keiser University by one shot.

They bounced back with a solid third round and carried a 15-shot cushion heading into Friday’s final round. UBC finished with a 72-hole score of 1,199, or 63-over par, in a format where the top four scores from five players count as the team score each day.

The victory completed an NAIA double for head coach Chris Macdonald, whose men’s squad captured the NAIA title last week in Arizona. “We have never done that before,” said Macdonald, who last week was named NAIA coach of the year. “It’s a nice feeling and it obviously speaks to our players, how committed they are and the program developing and maturing. It’s a huge credit to our student athletes. It’s just amazing what they did.”

This is the seventh NAIA national title for the UBC women. Sonja Tang, Grace Bell, Jessica Ng, Elizabeth Labbe, Una Chou and Bo Brown all saw action in the tournament. Tang (T4) and Chou (T7) both cracked the top 10. Labbe matched the low score of the tournament with a two-under 70 in Friday’s final round and finished T12.

Chou said rebounding from the team’s poor second round was a key. “We had a tough second round, but we had a team meeting that night and everyone came out of it feeling very motivated,” she said. “The whole vibe was just better. On moving day we just trusted each other and that helped give us the good result that we needed.”

“We didn’t play very well in the second round,” added Macdonald. “We just came out really flat and just couldn’t make any putts that day. Our putting and chipping were really poor and we spoke about that at a team meeting that night. . .We worked a little bit on our lag putting before we went out for our third round and everybody seemed to have a better feel and we made some putts and got some confidence. To be up 15 after the third round was big.”

The UBC women and men now head to Komoka, Ont., for the Canadian University/College Championships, which go May 30-June 2 at FireRock Golf Club. UBC won both the men’s and women’s Canadian titles last year, as they did the last time the event was played at FireRock in 2019.

“I remember we won both of those, but didn’t lead until the last putt on either one,” Macdonald said. “The men won in a playoff and the women’s team won on the last putt. We had literally not led the entire four days. Who knows what’s waiting for us there, but we’re certainly excited to go back to Ontario for a week.”

Three other B.C. schools — University of Victoria, University of the Fraser Valley and UBC-Okanagan are also competing in both the men’s and women’s competitions at the Canadian championships.

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CHIP SHOTS: Keiser University of Fort Lauderdale finished second to UBC at the NAIA Championships. Oklahoma City University was third. . .MaKayla Tyrrell of Oklahoma City won the individual title with a 72-hole score of 10-over par.