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May 24, 2002

AUBURN, Wash. – The 22nd-ranked South Carolina women’s golf team posted a final-round 313 and finished in 23rd place at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships at Washington National Golf Club. Second-ranked Duke overcame the leader from the first three rounds – Arizona – and cruised to the team title by six strokes over the Wildcats, top-ranked Auburn and Texas on the par 72, 6,424-yard course.

South Carolina competed in its fifth NCAA Championships in the eight years of Head Coach Kristi Coggins and its second appearance in a row in women’s golf’s premier event.

In the Lady Gamecocks’ first four-round tournament of the year, South Carolina could not hold up on the final day, posting its highest team score of the event in counting a score in the 80s for the first time this spring. Senior Reetta Laakkonen shot a three-over 75 to post Carolina’s best round of the day and Laakkonen finished her USC career with a four-day 301 and in a tie for 60th place. Junior All-America Kristy McPherson had a seven-over 79 Friday and was Carolina’s top overall finisher in 55th place with a 300. Rounding out the Carolina contingent were sophomore Adrienne Gautreaux (81, 308, 95th place), junior Kacy Thompson (78, 309, 99th) and sophomore Marci Robinson (81, 314, 112th).

In the team competition, the second-ranked Blue Devils turned the trick in winning their second championship in three years, a season after Georgia overtook the then top-ranked Duke squad in winning the 2001 title. Duke shot its best round of the tournament (one-under 287) and captured the team title by six strokes with a four-day 1164 team total. Arizona led the tournament in each of the first three rounds, but had an eight-over 296 Friday and finished in a three-way tie for second place at 18-over 1170 with No. 2 Auburn (287 Friday) and Texas (294). Georgia rounded out the top five with an 1176 four-day total.

Individually, Duke’s Virada Nirapathpongporn led from start to finish, shooting an even-par 72 Friday and capturing the individual title by five strokes over a quartet of golfers. Nirapathpongporn’s 279 total was ahead of Auburn’s Danielle Downey, Arizona’s Lorena Ochoa, Summer Sirmons of Georgia and Pepperdine’s Lindsey Wright, who each finished with four-under 284 totals.

Friday’s competition ends the season for the South Carolina women’s squad, who had one of the best years in the history of the program, capped by winning the school’s first-ever Southeastern Conference championship last month in Athens, Ga.


 23 South Carolina  298 298 308 313 1217T55     Kristy McPherson   76  71  74  79  300T60     Reetta Laakkonen   72  74  80  75  301T95     Adrienne Gautreaux   74  75  78  81  308T99     Kacy Thompson     76  78  77  78  309112     Marci Robinson   76  78  79  81  314