Freshman Stephanie Lau sank a clinching 10-foot putt on the 18thgreen to give Northwestern its second straight Big Ten Championship, and third in four years, on Sunday at The Fort Golf Resort. The 'Cats closed the tournament with a 6-under 282 in the final round, finishing the event with a Big Ten-record 12-under 852, an 11-shot improvement over their Championship winning performance at this same course a year ago.
The top-seeded Wildcats teed off Sunday with a two-shot advantage, but a scorching final round by Ohio State (-8) gave the Buckeyes a one-shot lead as the final group walked the final fairway. Lau's approach landed just left of the green but a savvy chip left her with a 10-foot par putt, one that would secure a share of the championship after Ohio State missed their own par attempt.
The rookie was unfazed by the magnitude of the moment in part because she wasn't fully aware of the stakes.
"I knew the leaderboard was really close, but the first thing on my mind was just to get an up-and-down," said Lau. "I knew I had a lot of good putts during the final round, but none of them fell. I told myself, 'I'm going to stay even, and I'm going to make this putt.'"
Her head coach had no doubt about the situation.
"I was a little unclear [about the leaderboard] coming up the 18th fairway, but I texted with [assistant] Beth [Miller] a bit and we knew that we needed a make-miss scenario for us to get a piece of the title," said Emily Fletcher, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year.
As the putt fell, the crowd around the green erupted, led by Lau's teammates who immediately mobbed her.
"I dream about these moments," said the freshman. "When I walked up [the 18th fairway], I looked around at the crowd, and thought, 'Wow'. I try to enjoy it and take it in, because I know these are the moments that I play for, that I practice for. I was nervous seeing them all, but it was awesome."
Read the full story at NU Sports.