HOUSTON, Tex. – Bridgewater's Christina Herbert stormed back from three strokes down on the final nine, to win the 2017 NCAA Division III women's golf national championship.
The junior carded a 74 on the final day to win by two shots with a four day score of +5.
"I had a good feeling coming into this week, and I knew she was capable of contending so I'm not surprised, but I am thrilled for Christina, for Bridgewater, and for our golf program," Bridgewater head women's golf coach John Rogers said. "We talked at the start of the week about this event being a marathon, and that it did not require explosive golf all week to win - it required steady golf and no big mistakes. She ended up having three solid rounds and one excellent round, and that was enough to get the job done. Christina is an amazing young lady, and she deserves this for all her dedication and hard work. It's a great day to be an Eagle!"
Herbert, who started on the back nine, took the lead for good on her third to last hole (#7) with a birdie.
She had trailed Rhodes' Nikki Isaacson by three strokes with six holes to go, before Isaacson made three consecutive bogeys on 13, 14 and 15. Meanwhile, Herbert birdied the par-5 5th hole, and held her nerve after a bogey on #6 to take the lead on another par-5.
Herbert was in the clubhouse first, but Isaacson bogeyed the 17th as well to give the Eagle junior a two-stroke win.
"Coach has a great poker face -- he knew I took the lead after that tough two-putt on my 17th hole, but I had no idea I was in the hunt," Herbert said. "I thought the bogeys I made on the back nine probably took me out of it. He did not tell me until I putted out on 18 that I was the leader in the clubhouse."
Herbert, tied for the lead entering the final day, had opened her round with a birdie on #10, but made three bogeys over the next five holes to fall behind early. She began on the more difficult back nine however, with many other contenders starting on the front.
Rogers noted that Herbert quickly figured out that the advantage on the front nine might not exist Friday because the wind was playing the opposite direction of the three previous days, making the front play much longer.
Herbert bogeyed number 2 after her tee ball was under a tree dropping her to +3, three shots behind the leader and still in second place.
Herbert birdied the par-5 fifth hole to pull within two strokes, but gave the shot back with a bogey from the bunker on number 6. Isaacson, however carded a bogey on No. 13 to keep the lead at two strokes.
A massive drive on the par-5, seventh hole left Herbert with a short approach to the green. She left an eagle putt two inches to the side of the hole and tapped in for the birdie. Meanwhile Isaacson was bogeying number 14, leaving the two golfers tied for the lead.
On the next hole, Herbert faced a 60-foot birdie putt that featured 15 feet of break. The Eagles' junior came through with a crucial two-putt to save par. "The birdie on #7 was impressive after that drive, but the 2-putt on #8 was pivotal, it had 3-putt written all over it," said Rogers
When Isaacson bogeyed No. 15, Herbert had the lead for good.
Herbert made a par on her final hole to become the leader in clubhouse and when Isaacson bogeyed No. 17, Herbert had a comfortable two-stroke lead.
"It was a goal of mine for my junior year to win the national championship and while I knew it was a lofty goal, I did not think it was out of reach," said Herbert. "It feels great to have achieved this and I'm glad to have done it on behalf of Bridgewater."
Rhodes held on to win the team title by two strokes over George Fox University.
Bridgewater College had four individual national champions in its history heading into 2016-17 (two from equestrian, two from track & field), and has now won an additional four this season (indoor track's Amber Celen in the 100 and 200 meters, equestrian's Zellie Wothers in intermediate equitation on the flat, and Herbert).