There’s making an eagle on the final hole of one of the most famous courses in the world and then there’s doing what Stanford junior Albane Valenzuela did on Monday to win the individual title at the prestigious East Lake Cup.
Locked in a battle with Arizona’s Yu-Sang Hou, Valenzuela, a Swiss native, turned in 2-under par on the same course that Tiger Woods won on last month. She was able to offset an early back-nine bogey with a birdie on the par-4 16th, then she saved her best for last on the par-5 home hole.
A perfect drive left her with 227 to the hole and she pured a hybrid to some 20 feet. After watching Hou make birdie to take a 1-stroke lead, Valenzuela rolled in the eagle putt for her first victory of the 2018 campaign.
“It feels great [to win the individual title],” Valenzuela said, according to GolfChannel.com. “I didn’t win anything this year, and I really wanted to get that feeling. Today is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time. I needed to pull one really good round and I was happy I could make it today. I feel great physically, I’m really happy with where I am, and I love Stanford.”
Valenzuela’s 4-under par round of 68 was enough to help lift her team to the top qualifying spot as the best collegiate teams in the country will square off in a match play competition over the next two days in Atlanta.
“I’m thrilled. They played so well,” Stanford head coach Anne Walker said. “It was really fun on the back nine, and it was just great to see. No one got tired of how challenging the front nine was, no one lost their patience, everyone stayed with it and it paid off.”
Stanford will face Alabama and USC will play Arizona on Tuesday for the right to play for the East Lake Cup on Wednesday.
On the men’s side, U.S. Amateur champion and Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland bested a pair of Duke Blue Devils in Chandler Eaton and Alex Smalley with a 4-under par 68 of his own to earn the individual crown. Duke scored best in the team competition to earn the top seed.
Duke will face off against Auburn while Oklahoma State will play Alabama in Tuesday’s first set of matches.