As the Idaho womenâ€™s golf team stepped onto the course to play in the final round of the Big Sky Championship, the team held a delicate four-stroke advantage over Sacramento State.
The advantage quickly disappeared during the final round, as the Hornets sparked a final push for the title.
The championship came down to the final hole, as freshman Sophie Hausmann sank a par putt to earn a one-stroke victory over Sacramento State and clinch the Big Sky title for the Vandals.
â€œWe felt good about how we were playing,â€ Idaho head coach Lisa Johnson said. â€œWe were trying to decide whether to let them know how Sac. State was playing. We decided to just let them play, anything can happen.â€
The Vandals and the Hornets battled back and forth during the back nine in that final round, with Idaho trailing by as many as four strokes.
â€œThey fought so hard,â€ Johnson said. â€œThey stayed with our game plan. We were very strong mentally, which was ultimately why we won. We were focused and stayed in the present.â€
Hausmannâ€™s par on the final hole gave the Vandals the extra push needed to win the championship and finish with a score of 868. Hausmann also earned a playoff spot in the individual competition with the putt.
The freshman stepped onto the playoff hole yet again, not to compete for a team title, but for medalist honors.
Hausmann had another par on the 18th to earn the Big Sky individual title, defeating Eastern Washingtonâ€™s Marissa Borja by one stroke.
â€œI canâ€™t believe it,â€ Hausmann said. â€œThe playoff at the end was an awesome experience.â€
In addition to winning the Big Sky Championship, Hausmann set a Big Sky record with a 7-under-par 65 during Tuesdayâ€™s round.
Hausmannâ€™s individual victory marks only the second time in program history that an Idaho freshman has won a conference championship.
â€œSophieâ€™s play this week was huge,â€ Johnson said. â€œItâ€™s a big reason why we won, and Iâ€™m proud of her for winning individually. Sheâ€™s a good ball striker, and this is the first time Sophieâ€™s showed her true colors under pressure. Itâ€™s a big accomplishment.â€
Four Idaho players finished the tournament in the top 20. Senior Kristin Strankman tied for third with an even 216, and freshman Michelle Kim tied for 13th with a 4-over-par 220.
Senior Cassie McKinley tied for 17th with a 6-over-par 222, while sophomore Kendall Gray tied for 31st with a 11-over-par 227.
The Vandals also earned several all-conference honors at the conclusion of the tournament. Michelle Kim was named Freshman of the Year, while she and Hausmann earned Big Sky Conference First Team honors.
Strankman and McKinley were named to the Big Sky Conference Second Team, and Gray was given an honorable mention.
â€œWe need to work on short-game, work on putting,â€ Johnson said. â€œWeâ€™re a pretty good ball-striking team, so hopefully weâ€™ll get sent to a regional that favors that.â€
The Vandals will compete in the NCAA Stanford Regional May 7.
Mihaela Karst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org