Tucson welcomes home National Champions
The highlight will live on forever: Women’s golfer Haley Moore calmly approaching her last putt, and in the shadows of Stillwater, Oklahoma sinks one of the biggest putts in program history — an Arizona program that has seen its share of the greatest women’s players to ever pick up a club including Annika Sorenstam.
The victors exited their championship-logo-laden Escalades wearing black hats that read “Nat18nal Champions” in typical corny, yet endearing form. The champions gathered for the media, lifting their brand-new trophy for all to see, with Queen’s “We Are The Champions” blasting out of the car speakers behind them. The eight players started to embrace and together sung the universally known victory anthem, a perfect period on a season that ended like a movie scene from Hollywood
The putt that clinched the national championship opened the doors for a welcome home party — and boy did Tucson throw one at the Jim Click Hall of Champions. Around 100 Wildcat fans gathered and welcomed the newly-crowned champions home to the very hall their names will be etched in for years to come.
A celebration that saw old and young come together to share smiles and joy was something that reminded everyone what sports was about — winning titles, and then rubbing it in ASU’s face.
As one of the Arizona women’s golf coaches put it, “I’m not sure there is a better feeling in the world than landing in Sky-Harbor Airport with a national championship.”
Moore’s winning putt wasn’t the only putt being lauded at the welcome home party, as Bianca Pagdanganan’s eagle putt to force a playoff earlier in the weekend was also lifted up as a true turning-point moment in Arizona’s tournament, and momentum created from the improbable comeback allowed the Wildcats to go up against higher ranked teams and opponents.
Arizona’s Yu-Sang Hu went up against the top player in the NCAA, Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson — who also broke the longstanding record for lowest per-round score in NCAA history — and beat her. Momentum continued to snowball after that early start to the six-day tournament, more of a test of will and endurance than skill, with Arizona outlasting and outshooting more talented and esteemed programs.
The team will forever be enshrined along National Championship Drive on Arizona’s campus with a banner of their own, this team will go down in Arizona lore, and rightfully so, as a team that showed the nation what “Bearing Down” really looks like.
Follow David Skinner on Twitter @davidwskinner_