College / Women

Oregon Ducks feeling right at home at NCAA Women’s Championship

EUGENE, Ore. – The Oregon Ducks are staying at the local Holiday Inn this week. Campus is only five minutes away from Eugene Country Club, but the team wanted the NCAA Championship to feel as close to a regular tournament as possible. And, well, the Ducks don’t play at home.

“Brought my own pillow,” said junior Cathleen Santosa.

Oregon’s 3-over 291 in Round 3 put them in sixth place, safely onto the fourth round and in prime position to nab one of the eight spots available for match play. The field is cut to 15 teams after three rounds and eight after four.

School is still in session at Oregon and, as head coach Ria Scott noted, several players live close to fraternities. It’s nice to be away from the noise and distractions of campus life. On Saturday, before Oregon’s afternoon round, Scott woke up in her own bed, baked blueberry power cakes for her kids and had banana bread in the oven before heading off to pick up her team at the Holiday Inn.

Later that night, after senior Caroline Inglis posted a course-record 65, they dined at Beppe and Gianni’s Italian restaurant and had ice cream at Prince Pucker’s, Inglis’ favorite.

Scott flew to Bradenton, Fla., last year to watch the NCAA Championship. As 2016 host, she wanted to see how the new format worked in person. There she witnessed coaches scrambling to do last-minute research on their match-play opponents.

“I think really it made me pay attention to other people’s games as we’ve played throughout the year,” she said.

At the East-West Challenge in September, Scott got the feeling of what it’s like to make picks at a pairings party on the top floor of a hotel in downtown Madison, Wis., complete with ice cream.

The Ducks won that event, defeating Michigan and Colorado.

All season long, Scott and assistant coach Laura Cilek have worked to promote the “mindset of possibility” for their team.

They won again at the Westbrook Invitational in February and finished second at the Silverado Showdown. The Ducks ranked a school-best 20th going into the postseason, and qualified with a fifth-place at the NCAA regional in Baton Rouge, La.

During a rainy Round 3 in Eugene, freshman Kathleen Scavo shot 1-under 71 to lead the Ducks. A welcome turnaround after back-to-back 78s. Petra Salko posted 32 on the back side to shoot 72 while Inglis added 73.

Santosa, an Aussie, gave the home crowd a jolt when she chipped in for birdie from 25 yards out on the 18th hole.

“You don’t know which four are going to count,” said Scott. “It’s really a great feeling to know that we have that depth in our lineup and that reliability.”

And the Ducks roll on, back to their home away from home.

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