It was a fairytale ending for Ole Miss women’s golf at Grayhawk Golf Club, taking down Oklahoma State 4-1 Wednesday afternoon to capture the 2021 NCAA National Championship.
The duel in the desert featured a matchup with one of the nation’s top teams, but after yesterday’s dramatics, the Rebels weren’t done chasing history. Chiara Tamburlini was dominant on the course, recording the largest margin of victory in championship match history with a 6&5 win. Senior Kennedy Swann came up huge for Ole Miss, winning her match 2&1 for the second point, and Andrea Lignell delivered the winning putt to cap off a season to remember.
“It took a lot of players to buy in,” said head coach Kory Henkes. “Our team is very disciplined, and I think that’s what I pride us on the most. When we come out to practice, we have a purpose every single day, and we hold each other accountable which is the really cool part about it. We don’t necessarily have to push them as much as they are going to push each other. I think that’s the important part of team chemistry, having everyone buy into the same thing.”
With the title, Ole Miss claimed its first national championship since football’s 1962 title. The Rebels also became the first Ole Miss women’s team to claim an NCAA National Championship.
In the final match of the season, with a national championship on the line, Tamburlini made a statement. The sophomore was eager to win her team a point for the first time this week and did just that out of the third position.
The Switzerland native came out strong, birdieing three of her first seven holes, but more importantly building a commanding six-stroke lead through nine. She conceded her first hole of the day on No. 10 but kept her foot on the gas, taking a par-4 on No. 12 to put the pressure on OSU’s Lianna Bailey. Not wasting any time, the sophomore won 6&5 to put the first point on the board for either team.
Swann, who teed off in her customary leadoff spot with Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark, extended her career match play record to 10-2. Tied through the first six holes in match play, the senior began to separate herself. She sunk an eagle on No. 7 to go up and caught fire. Swanm followed it up with a deep birdie and par putt to go 3-up heading into the back nine. Stark tried to chip away at the lead on No. 11 and No. 13 and managed to cut the deficit to one but the Austin, Texas, product responded, going stroke-for-stroke with her before sinking the dagger birdie on No. 17 to snag the second point and inch Ole Miss that much closer to the title.
Lignell played in the second pairing for the Rebels. She hung in early after Isabella Fierro built a two-stroke lead, before the sophomore won back-to-back holes to flip the script and tie things up heading into the turn. Lignell finally broke through on No. 13, taking the lead and never looked back. With her teammates cheering her on, the sophomore clinched on No. 17, putting the Rebels on top of the golf world.
With a commanding lead in hand herself, First Team All-American Julia Johnson joined freshman Smilla Sonderby in charging up the course to join in the celebration. With tears of joy in her eyes, the senior reflected on the moment.
“I can’t even describe it,” said Johnson. “I don’t know. I mean, no one ever thought that we could do this. No one ever really believed in us, and I knew. I just knew when I committed here that we could do this, and I just believed in us from the start. It’s just really special. I’m just really thankful for this moment.”
FINAL RESULTS (W, 4-1)
1. Swann (Ole Miss) def. Stark (Oklahoma State) 2&1
2. Lignell (Ole Miss) def. Fierro (Oklahoma State) 2&1
3. Tamburlini (Ole Miss) def. Bailey (Oklahoma State) 6&5
4. Johnson (Ole Miss) def. Tatematsu (Oklahoma State) 4&3
5. Hinson-Tolchard (Oklahoma State) def. Sonderby (Ole Miss) 4&3
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports