UCLA edges Arizona State at Ping Invite

PING/ASU Invitational (Final Rd.)

Let the Pac-10 fireworks begin. UCLA made a charge up the leaderboard Sunday at the Ping/ASU invitational, edging host Arizona State by a single shot. UCLA sophomore Stephanie Kono helped make it all possible, dropping a 50-foot birdie putt on her final hole to give her team the edge.

The Bruins, No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, put together a 9-under 279 at Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz., to close out the weekend. They finished at 8-under 856 for a second consecutive victory this spring after four runner-up finishes in a row last fall.

UCLA started the final round in third place, trailing top-ranked Arizona State by 12 shots and No. 5 USC, another Pac-10 powerhouse, by six. Kono led the charge Sunday, closing in 6-under 66 – which included four birdies on the back nine. Kono claimed individual medalist honors by one shot with her 9-under 207. Teammate Tiffany Lua, a freshman, also went in the red Sunday, turning in a 4-under 68 despite making a double-bogey on her final hole.

Arizona State, the defending national champions who also won last year’s Pac 10 title, entered the final round nursing a lead, but shot a team-high 4-over 292 to slip into second at 7-over 857. USC finished another shot back in third.

No. 24 New Mexico had the lowest score in the final round at 10-under 278. The Lobos jumped four spots up the leaderboard to finish fourth alone at 1-under 863.

Kono’s victory marked the third college title of her career. The No. 5-ranked player by Golfweek, Kono was recently named to the U.S. Curtis Cup team. Other players at the tournament who received a Curtis Cup invite include Lua, USC sophomore Jennifer Song, who finished second at 8-under 208; Denver freshman Kimberly Kim, who was fifth at 6-under 210; and Arizona State freshman Jennifer Johnson, who was T-11 at 2-under 214.

Oklahoma State sophomore Caroline Hedwall and New Mexico sophomore Rebecca Hellbom shared third at 7-under 209.

New Mexico senior Jodi Ewart and USC junior Lizette Salas tied for sixth. Hellbom and Ewart both closed with a career-best 67.

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