Disastrous Finish Gives Duke 7th National Championship

The 2019 NCAA Women’s Golf National Championship came down to a pair of schools separated by 80 miles.

Six-time national champions, Duke University, faced off against Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Wake Forest at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville Arkansas in the best-of-five match play competition.

With talent and All-Americans to spare on both sides, three of the five matches went into extra holes. In typical match play fashion, everything unfolded slowly until it didn’t. The final match out was the first to finish, and within the next half hour, two of the remaining three completed without a national champion being crowned.

The third match out ended up being the decisive one between Duke sophomore Miranda Wang and Wake Forest freshman Letizia Bagnoli. Wang had a putt to win the match on the 18th hole, and prematurely celebrated a putt she seemed convinced was finding the bottom of the cup.

From there, the pair of underclassmen halved the 19th hole with pars before heading to the par-5 15th. Both players found the fairway, but Bagnoli faced a difficult shot resulting from a tree position in the middle of the fairway. 

Needing to fade the ball into the green, Bagnoli double-crossed a fairway wood that found the penalty area to the left of the hole.

Forced to attempt to hole a pitch shot for par, Bagnoli gave a good effort, but ultimately was left begging. Wang, who missed the green to the right in two, was able to hit a fine chip and lag her birdie putt to within gimme range to seal the deal for Duke’s seventh NCAA team championship.

“I couldn’t feel more proud than I do right now,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks said. “We’ve had a tough team all year long and they were tough this week.”

Wang, who went 0-2 in the quarter- and semi-finals, was grateful for her opportunity to get one more chance to help her team. It ended up being the championship-clinching point.

“I would just like to say that I am very thankful to be on this team,” Wang said. “Honestly I was not thinking about winning this hole, I was thinking about, ‘I am very grateful to be on this team.’ I did not do very well in my first two matches but my teammates got me through a lot, so I was like, ‘I’m going to do this for my team.’’