TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State’s eighth national championship in women’s golf was a moment Linnea Strom will never forget.
“It was amazing,” Strom said.
Strom sank a 2-foot putt against Northwestern Wednesday to give the Sun Devils their first championship since 2009. It is the first as an ASU head coach for Missy Farr-Kaye.
Returning home Thursday was an emotional moment for the players. They were met by many fans, friends and family members at the ASU Karsten Golf Course clubhouse. The applause and cheering led some to be overwhelmed with emotion. Farr-Kaye showed the most, wiping away tears on more than one occasion.
The final tournaments of the season were an interesting ride. After performing well all season, the Sun Devils finished sixth in the Pac-12 Championship. They then won their NCAA regional by 20 strokes.
“Pac-12s was our first bad tournament,” freshman Olivia Mehaffey said. “We learned from it. We put it behind us. We came back, we were focused, we were driven.
“We weren’t going to miss nationals again.”
Farr-Kaye was not too concerned about ASU’s conference finish. Pac-12 competition was tough this year, with three of the final four teams at nationals members of the conference.
Farr-Kaye was more concerned about the play of her team.
“We did not play well at the conference,” Farr-Kaye said. “I wouldn’t let them beat themselves up. I was like, ‘Hey, we don’t have time. We don’t have time for you guys to be upset.’ “
The Sun Devils finished third in team stroke play, then started match play with a 5-0-0 defeat over Florida. Their next match against Stanford was more exciting than the final, Strom said.
Two of the matches against the Cardinal needed 19 holes. Strom and Monica Vaughn each won their extra hole, and their match, to send Arizona State to the championship round.
“I was nervous, but it was a lot of fun,” Strom said.
The team’s conditioning played a large part in its success, Farr-Kaye said. Many of the days were cold and windy, plus the team was away from its hotel for nearly 20 hours a day.
“The way we physically condition is all geared toward those eight days,” Farr-Kaye said. “And that’s what I realized the last couple years, watching the national championship, it’s about stamina.”
The team title wasn’t the only championship that was brought back to Tempe. Vaughn won the individual championship.
This is not the first time Farr-Kaye has won a national championship at Arizona State. She helped ASU win their first championship in program history in 1990 as a player, and was an assistant coach on the 2009 national championship team.
An elated Farr-Kaye is not going to rush into the next season.
“I really want to enjoy this one.”