FRANKLIN, Tenn (Associated Press) - Alabama won its first women's golf title Friday, holding off two-time champ Southern California by a stroke on the 72nd hole in the NCAA Division I championship.
The Crimson Tide gave coach Mic Potter his first national title and first for a program in its eighth trip to the national tournament when senior Brooke Pancake rolled in a 4-footer for par on No. 18. It's the third national title this year for Alabama, which also won in football and women's gymnastics, and sixth for the Southeastern Conference.
"Coach (Nick) Saban practices at our practice facility all the time," Potter said of the coach who has two national football titles at Alabama. "I feel more on his level."
Alabama finished at 6-over 294 in the fourth round for a 19-over 1,171 total.
Southern Cal trailed Alabama by 14 strokes after 36 holes and by two going into the final round. The national champs in 2003 and 2008 tied the Crimson Tide five times atop the leaderboard and led by five strokes before losing the lead on the back nine. The Trojans shot 293 for a 1,172 total.
They were followed by LSU (289-1,173) and Virginia (292-1,175).
Senior Brooke Pancake led the way for the Crimson Tide with a 2-under-par score of 286 which put her in second place behind individual champion Chirapat Jao-Javanil from Oklahoma, who finished with a six-under-par score of 282.
"I would take the team championship over an individual one every day," said Pancake, who will be heading to Scotland soon for the Curtis Cup. "It means the world, especially since I got to have a lot of my family and friends and such support. My grandfather got to be here. Yeah, it is amazing to have ended my college career like this."
Southern Cal had gone up by five strokes reaching 13 over with Alabama at 18 over. The Trojans had three bogeys after a couple shots bounced off the hard green into the water on the par-3 No. 16 and finished with eight bogeys and one double bogey in the final five holes combined to just come up short after Sophia Popov and Inah Park birdied No. 18.
"I felt like we got a couple bad breaks," Gaston said. "I don't think we made some bad shots."
Alabama sophomore Hannah Collier looked at a leaderboard on No. 16 and saw the Tide trailed by five.
"What's left to lose? Might as well swing freely, which Mic always tells me to do," Collier said.
She birdied Nos. 17 and 18 in helping swing the lead back.
After the back-and-forth of the final round, the championship came down to a dramatic final hole. USC’s Inah Park rolled in a 5-footer for birdie on 18, pulling Southern Cal within a stroke of Alabama at 20 over.
Pancake laid up on the par-5 18th with her third shot landing in the trees just left of the fairway. Her shot onto the green wound up about 60 feet from the hole, a shot that would have been perfect for the third-round pin. Pancake hit the right side of the cup, and the ball looked like it might go in before going 4 feet past for par. She holed out the par putt to start Alabama's latest celebration.