FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Freshman Brooke Sansom had no idea what was going on around her when she stepped up to attempt a 7-foot birdie to win her match Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. Sansom had been down as many as four holes earlier in the match, and it was incredible that she even had the opportunity. But she was never fazed.
Sure enough, Sansom calmly drained the putt to win the hole and win her match.
Little did she know that just minutes before, teammate Mychael O'Berry - who had also climbed back from three holes down with three to play - won her match after winning the 18th hole. And with those two wins, the Auburn women's golf team clinched a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Texas and earned their spot in the semifinals Wednesday.
"It was an amazing moment," Auburn head coach Melissa Luellen said. "I'm so proud of my young ladies and their fight. They never gave up. Brooke Sansom was four down and we had to flip a couple of matches. For a freshman to have nerves of steel like that - and Mychael O'Berry owning those last four holes, it was awesome."
"It's never over until it's over," added O'Berry. "Anything can happen. It's so important to never count yourself out of it."
Sansom, in particular, struggled throughout much of the front nine. But a day after making three birdies on the back nine to help Auburn slide into eighth place after stroke play, she once again turned it on down the stretch. Putts started to drop. And the momentum started to shift.
"I knew that I was going to need to make something happen the last seven holes," Sansom said. "Thankfully, something kind of switched in my brain, and I was like, 'Let's go.' I was ready. I was pumped up. I was excited to hit the shot. I was looking forward to the next putt. And thankfully they dropped when I needed them to drop."
Sansom won her match on the second playoff hole. The third winner for Auburn in the match was sophomore Julie McCarthy who earned a 3&1 victory over Agathe Laisne, the top-ranked player for the Longhorns.
Though Kaleigh Telfer and Elena Hualde Zúñiga dropped their matches, both players battled back from three holes down and had a chance to force a playoff by winning 18. At the end of the day, not one player gave up. They all kept battling until the end.
"This proved how much we've been working on our mental game," Luellen said. "And this was not only mental. This was heart. And grit. I'm extremely impressed by each and every one of them. We could've won all the matches today after being 4 down and 3 down. So I think it's a great lesson for them to know that no matter where they are, they can never give up."
The Tigers will return to Blessings Golf Club on Wednesday where they will meet Wake Forest in the semifinals. Arizona and Duke will play in the other semifinal. All four teams will tee off a 7 a.m. CT with Auburn and Wake Forest starting from the 10th hole.
Match Play Results - Quarterfinals
Auburn def. Texas, 3-2
- Hailee Cooper (UT) def. Kaleigh Telfer (AU), 1-UP
- Kaitlyn Papp (UT) def. Elena Hualde Zúñiga (AU), 2-UP
- Brooke Sansom def. Emilee Hoffman (UT), 1-UP
- (20 holes) Julie McCarthy (AU) def. Agathe Laisne (UT), 3&1
- Mychael O'Berry (AU) def. Sara Kouskova (UT), 1-UP