May 24, 2016
by Rob Moseley
Photo: Eric Evans
EUGENE, Ore. — The final round of Caroline Inglis’ Oregon career, which included the 2015 Pac-12 Championship and a Eugene Country Club record round of 65 on Saturday, ended jarringly Tuesday in the NCAA Championships, somewhere on the 15th hole.
Inglis, the three-time state high school champ and hometown kid from Eugene, had just won the 14th hole of her match against Lilia Vu, and was 1 down with four to play. That’s when word came that the Bruins had locked up their third win of the teams’ NCAA quarterfinal, bringing to a close the Ducks’ season and the career of their senior leader Inglis.
“I was making a little comeback and I was hitting it a lot better,” said Inglis, who lost three straight holes on the front side Tuesday to make the turn 2 down. “But it ended pretty quickly. It’s too bad we didn’t put up a better fight, but that’s golf.”
The loss to UCLA brought to a close a stirring run by the UO women on their home course this week, not to mention their remarkable rally after a lackluster fall season.
The Ducks were ranked 40th coming off a fall slate that saw them finish last among conference teams at the Pac-12 Preview in November. They entered the postseason ranked No. 20, survived the NCAA Regional round and played themselves into the national quarterfinals by finishing eighth after four rounds of stroke play over the previous four days of the NCAA Championship.
Had UO coach Ria Scott known after the Pac-12 Preview where Oregon’s spring season would take the team, “I would have been thrilled,” she said.
The underdog story ended Tuesday morning, however. The Ducks’ top player this spring, junior Cathleen Santoso, lost four of five holes between No. 7 and No. 11 before losing 5 and 4 to Bronte Law of UCLA. Freshman Petra Salko lost five straight after the turn and lost 5 and 3 to Bethany Wu, while fellow freshman Kathleen Scavo dropped her match to Louise Ridderstrom, 4 and 3.
The par-3 11th hole summed up Oregon’s day, as the Ducks repeatedly found themselves off among the sand traps to the right side of the green.
“We didn’t hit very many greens, or at least as many as we have in the past,” Scott said. “And we missed them in really bad places. Execution on our shots into the green wasn’t that great, and UCLA is a team that just doesn’t make mistakes. They play great golf, always hit it in play.”
That will be a valuable lesson for a UO team that returns next season largely intact. Santoso steps into Inglis’ role as the team’s leader. Marcella Pranovia also will be a senior in 2016-17, having enjoyed the most success on the team Tuesday by playing her match all square.
And then there were the freshmen, Salko and Scavo. Each saw her match snowball on the back side Tuesday, but Oregon wouldn’t have even reached match play without their efforts Sunday and Monday. Each shot even-par 144 over the final two rounds of stroke play, six strokes better than any of their more veteran teammates.
“We’ve all just learned so much this year, and matured as players,” Inglis said. “I know they’ll do great next year. I’m excited for them. It’ll be awesome to watch.”
Inglis will be watching from Portland, where she intends to move and pursue a professional career. Her summer schedule could be dictated by recovery time needed for a hip problem that dogged her throughout the NCAA Championships — though not enough to slow her in Saturday’s unforgettable course-record round of 7-under 65.
And Inglis is already planning ways of staying connected with her teammates. She’s circled the date of next year’s team banquet, and eagerly awaits the chance to “roast” the team’s juniors, after being on the receiving end of such light-hearted treatment herself.
“Just the interactions with my teammates, the banquets, just the funny moments with my team,” Inglis said. “That’s what I’ll remember the most.”