Co-Champion Romero Leads Ducks To Second-Place Finish

LAKE ELMO, Minn. — An incredible first tournament by true freshman Kiara Romero and a furious finish by the entire lineup fueled the Oregon women’s golf team to a second-place finish on Wednesday at the Annika Intercollegiate at Royal Golf Club.

The Ducks entered the final round in third place and remained there for much of the day before catching fire on the back nine. Oregon’s five-player lineup combined to shoot 13-under par across the final five holes – headlined by eagles on No. 18 by both Briana Chacon and Minori Nagano – to leapfrog defending national champion Wake Forest and finish as the runner-up at 23-under par. The Ducks posted the best round of the day with a 9-under 279, and finished just three strokes back of South Carolina for first place.

“I’m incredibly proud of the fight that our team showed today, especially late in the round,” head coach Derek Radley said. “We got off to a bit of a tough start on the back nine, but they stayed composed and played absolutely lights out down the stretch. This was a great first tournament for us and we can’t wait for our next opportunity to come out and compete as a team.”

Romero put the nation on notice in her first collegiate tournament, shooting 8-under par for the week to finish in a four-way tie for individual medalist honors. After opening with a 5-under 67 in her first round as a Duck on Monday, Romero closed the week with her second straight 2-under 70 in the final round.

“What an awesome way for Kiara to begin her Duck career,” Radley said. “She is so talented and mature beyond her years – you would never know she’s a true freshman playing in her first tournament. We’re thrilled that she’s a part of our team and are so excited to see what comes next for her.”

How it Happened: Romero got her day off to a blistering start, making birdie on her first three holes to briefly take over the individual lead at 9 under. She followed with three bogeys in her next eight holes, but came back with a birdie at No. 15 and then secured a share of the individual win with a birdie on No. 18.

Romero’s two birdies in her final four holes contributed to Oregon’s furious finish. Chacon was 2 over through 15 holes before making birdies at No. 16 and No. 17 and finishing her day with an eagle on the par-5 18th. Nagano also birdied No. 16 before making eagle at No. 18, and a birdie by Ching-Tzu Chen made the Ducks a combined 6-under par on the final hole. Ashleigh Park added a birdie at No. 15, and Chen also birdied No. 14 and No. 16.

Chacon closed her week with a 2-under 70 to finish just one stroke back of Romero at 7-under par, tied for fifth overall. Nagano was the top Duck on Wednesday with a 3-under 69 to tie for 15th overall at 5 under, and Park gave Oregon three players in the top 20 in a tie for 18th overall (-2) after carding a 2-under 70 of her own.

Team Leaderboard

1. South Carolina – 273-282-283 – 838 (-26)

3. Oregon – 280-282-279 – 841 (-23)

3. Wake Forest – 277-281-284 – 842 (-22)

4. San Jose State – 277-289-289 – 855 (-9)

5. Texas A&M – 283-285-288 – 856 (-8)

6. Texas – 288-280-289 – 857 (-7)

7. Florida State – 287-283-289 – 859 (-5)

8. Virginia – 287-288-290 – 865 (+1)

9. Duke – 291-282-294 – 867 (+3)

10. Mississippi State – 292-286-295 – 873 (+9)

11. Minnesota – 290-301-293 – 884 (+20)

12. Baylor – 286-300-299 – 885 (+21)

Ducks on the Leaderboard

T1. Kiara Romero – 67-71-70 – 208 (-8)

T5. Briana Chacon – 69-70-70 – 209 (-7)

T15. Minori Nagano – 72-70-69 – 211 (-5)

T18. Ashleigh Park – 73-71-70 – 214 (-2)

T47. Ching-Tzu Chen – 72-78-74 – 124 (+8)

What it Means: The Ducks entered this season with the task of replacing Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu, who opted to go pro after putting together the most productive career in program history. The first time out yielded impressive results, with Romero living up to her billing as the top-ranked recruit in the 2023 class. Radley said Oregon’s mantra for the day was “finish strong,” and his team certainly did that with a stellar showing over the final five holes. The Ducks’ runner-up finish will surely provide some added confidence as they move forward in the fall, after jumping past last year’s NCAA champions (Wake Forest) with a terrific final-round performance.

Notable: Romero earned the 38th individual win in program history, and first since Chacon won the 2022 NCAA Albuquerque Regional … Oregon led the field with 58 total birdies and was the top team in par-5 scoring at 26 under … The Ducks also tied for the best team score on par-3 holes at 1-under par … Chacon was the top individual on par-5 holes at 9-under par, and tied for second on par 3s at 2-under par … Romero led the Ducks with 15 total birdies, second-most in the field.

Up Next: Oregon will return to action at the Molly Collegiate Invitational on Sept. 25-26 in Monterey, Calif.