Arizona State coach Linda Vollstedt has readied her women’s golf t
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) _ Arizona State coach Linda Vollstedt has readied her women’s golf team for a date with history.
The Sun Devils headed into today’s final round of the NCAA women’s golf championship with a 14-shot lead over San Jose State and just 18 holes from becoming the first team to win three straight national titles.
``If you try to block it out of your mind you’re fooling yourself,″ Vollstedt said. ``We’ve thought about it all year long.
``It’s exciting for us to have an opportunity to do that. We want to take advantage of it. We really don’t put it out of our minds. We don’t talk about it, but you can’t ignore it.″
The Sun Devils’ 2-over-par 866 team total just about guarantees the winner will come from the West for the ninth straight season. Arizona State and San Jose State have won three titles, while UCLA and Tulsa have one each.
Arizona State remained steady on the 6,061-yard Pete Dye-designed Landfall course despite a late-day wind that kicked up. The Sun Devils posted scores of 71, 72 and two 74s in Friday’s third round.
``Although we are not going to give up, being 14 shots out of the lead is very, very difficult for any team unless something unusual happens,″ San Jose State coach Mark Gale said. ``(Arizona State) has been this way all year.
Vibeke Stensrud of San Jose State shot a 71 to go seven under and tie the NCAA women’s 54-hole record. She’s led from the first round and could be the first wire-to-wire winner since Pat Hurst did it for the same school in 1989.
``If I start counting shots like match play I might hurt my own score, but I might hurt the team too,″ Stensrud said when asked about looking over her shoulder at other competitors during the final round.
Stensrud’s 71, which followed two 69s, included a birdie chip-in from the sand on No. 5 and a drive on No. 17 that landed in the basket of a golf cart.
``Can I drive the cart back in the fairway?″ Stensrud asked when she found her errant shot. However, she recovered to par the hole and tie the three-round record, held by three golfers in the 1983 championship.
``She scored from bad places out there and she scored well when she was in good position,″ Gale said.
Meanwhile, Arizona State’s Wendy Ward again fought blisters to shoot a 71 and remain in the hunt for the individual crown after finishing third and second in her last two NCAA appearances.
The U.S. Amateur champion is five shots behind Stensrud at 214, one shot behind Erika Wicoff of Indiana and Kristel Mourgue d’Algue of Arizona State.
``I’m going to go out there and try to make every hole a birdie hole and give myself the most opportunities, and just leave the rest to the golf course,″ said Ward, who played in tennis shoes because of her aching feet.
Wake Forest, which started the third round tied with San Jose State for second, fell 20 shots off the lead and dropped into fourth place, one stroke behind Stanford.