SEASIDE, Calif. — The first career win for senior Ashleigh Park powered Oregon to its first team victory of the 2023-24 season and eighth under head coach Derek Radley on Tuesday at the Molly Collegiate Invitational.
After entering the final day of competition at Bayonet Golf Course in third place and three strokes off the lead, the Ducks put together a stellar 11-under 277 in the final round to overtake San Jose State and finish in a tie for first with California at 28-under par. Oregon won the fifth-score tiebreaker with the Golden Bears to secure the team title. The trio of Park, Minori Nagano and Kiara Romero combined to shoot 11-under par in the final round and fuel Oregon’s comeback win.
“This was an awesome win for our team,” Radley said. “We put ourselves in position to compete yesterday, and they stayed composed all day long today and got the job done. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and do a great job of really playing for each other. We place an emphasis on finishing strong, and they were able to do that today when it mattered most.”
Park held a two-stroke lead through 36 holes after firing a 4-under 68 and 5-under 67 on Monday, and she never left the top spot with another 4-under 68 on Tuesday. Park opened her day with a bogey on No. 1, but responded with three birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 2 under. She offset a bogey on No. 12 with birdies on No. 11 and No. 13, and added her sixth birdie of the day at No. 16 to run away with a four-stroke victory at 13-under par.
It is the first individual medalist performance of Park’s collegiate career, and second in as many outings for the Ducks after Romero kicked off her Duck career with a win at the Annika Intercollegiate.
“Great to see Ashleigh get her first win as a Duck,” Radley said. “She has been so steady for our team since she joined us last year, and she really set the tone for us this week. She has all the talent in the world and we saw her full skillset on display here in this tournament.”
Nagano (-8) and Romero (-6) joined Park in the individual top 10, finishing in a tie for fifth and 10th, respectively. Ching-Tzu Chen also performed well as an individual in a tie for 13th overall at 4 under, and Briana Chacon tied for 20th at 1 under to give Oregon five total players in the top 20.
How it Happened: The Ducks made their move on the back nine of the course, where their five players in the lineup combined to post 12 total birdies against just five bogeys. Oregon’s lineup made 13 birdies on the front nine, but also had nine bogeys.
Oregon was especially strong on the final four holes of the course, shooting a bogey-free 6 under from hole No. 15 to No. 18. That has been a theme for the Ducks early on, after they combined to shoot 13-under par across the final five holes of the Annika Intercollegiate to move up and finish second.
Park, Nagano and Romero combined for a whopping 16 total birdies on the day compared to just five total bogeys. Nagano was 3 under without a bogey through her first 13 holes, and Romero was bogey-free with four birdies in her final 12 holes.
A strong finish by Chacon helped the Ducks secure the team victory. The two-time all-American was 2 over through 10 holes, but made back-to-back birdies on holes 15-16 and was bogey-free the rest of the way to finish with an even-par 72.
What it Means: The theme for the Ducks early in the season has been “finish strong,” and Radley’s team did that for the second time in as many tournaments. After missing the NCAA Championships last season – following a national runner-up finish in 2022 – the Ducks have made a point this fall of proving they once again belong in the conversation as one of the nation’s elite teams.
Notable: Park claimed the 39th individual win in program history, and Oregon’s team win is the 37th all-time … The Ducks tied with California for the most birdies in the field with 70, and posted the second-best scores on both par-3 (E) and par-4 (+1) holes … Park was the best player in the field on par-4s at 7 under, and her 16 total birdies tied for second-most among all players … Park, Nagano, Romero and Chacon have all finished in the top 20 in each of the first two tournaments.
Team Standings (Top five):
T1. Oregon – 280-279-277 – 836 (-28)
T1. California – 271-286-279 – 836 (-28)
3. San Jose State – 280-276-285 – 841 (-23)
4. Oregon State – 281-289-283 – 853 (-11)
5. Maryland – 285-283-290 – 858 (-6)
Ducks on the Leaderboard:
1. Ashleigh Park – 68-67-68 – 203 (-13)
T5. Minori Nagano – 70-69-69 – 208 (-8)
10. Kiara Romero – 71-71-68 – 210 (-6)
T13. Ching-Tzu Chen* – 71-68-73 – 212 (-4)
T20. Briana Chacon – 71-72-72 – 215 (-1)
35. Anika Varma – 75-73-72 – 220 (+4)
* Competed as an individual
Up Next: Oregon will continue its fall season on Oct. 2-3 at the Windy City Classic in Chicago.