After rallying on Tuesday to beat Texas, the Ole Miss women’s golf team never looked back.
In Wednesday night’s championship match, Chiara Tamburlini provided the spark that lit the match in the Rebels’ 4-1 victory with an impressive 6-and-5 win. It was the largest margin for a final round since the NCAA switched to match play in 2015.
Ole Miss senior Julia Johnson had a big day, winning 4-and-3 against Rina Tatematsu. The senior holed a critical birdie putt on the 11th to go up four.
Four. Up.@juliaclaireee is closing in!📊 https://t.co/BnOyxalAuf📺 @GolfChannel pic.twitter.com/dcSyREKVvG— Ole Miss Women’s Golf (@OleMissWGolf) May 26, 2021
Four. Up.@juliaclaireee is closing in!📊 https://t.co/BnOyxalAuf📺 @GolfChannel pic.twitter.com/dcSyREKVvG
Fifth-year senior Kennedy Swann, facing women’s world amateur No. 7 Maja Stark, also delivered needed points for Ole Miss. Swann fell behind after three holes but came back to tie the match and win three straight holes to take a 3-up lead heading into the back nine.
While Stark attempted the comeback, a missed birdie putt allowed Swann to end it on the 17th and take the 2-and-1 win.
Andrea Lignell delivered the final blow for the Rebels, rallying from her own early deficit to take the lead on the 13th over Isabella Fierro. Lignell then holed one from 6 feet on the 17th for a 2-and-1 victory and the national title.
𝓝𝓐𝓣𝓘𝓞𝓝𝓐𝓛 𝓒𝓗𝓐𝓜𝓟𝓘𝓞𝓝𝓢 🏆 pic.twitter.com/TUWed5j2cs— Ole Miss Women’s Golf (@OleMissWGolf) May 27, 2021
𝓝𝓐𝓣𝓘𝓞𝓝𝓐𝓛 𝓒𝓗𝓐𝓜𝓟𝓘𝓞𝓝𝓢 🏆 pic.twitter.com/TUWed5j2cs
“No one ever thought that we could do this,” Johnson said, in tears after the win. “No one ever believed in us. And I knew. I just knew when I committed here that we could do this and I just believed in us from the start. It’s just really special and we’re just really thankful for this moment.”
The title is Ole Miss’ first-ever recognized national championship — men’s or women’s — in school history. The last time an Ole Miss team played for a NCAA title was in 1995, when the men’s tennis team fell to Stanford.
It’s also a watershed moment for the program. When head coach Kory Henkes took over in 2015, the team was ranked 134th in the country.
“When I came into this program a couple of years ago, we were nowhere close. We worked our tails off to get to the point that we’re at now,” said Swann. “I think it’s great that we’ve finally proven that we belong here. I mean, we just won a national championship.
“Ole Miss is a good team that is here to stay and we’ll be around for a long time.”