PULLMAN – As she lined up her final putt of the day, part of Joanne Lee had to know the race for the Pac-12 team championship was at least going to be close.
But Lee, a senior, had no idea just how crucial her birdie was on the par-5 18th hole at Palouse Ridge on Sunday until she walked off the green.
It was then, Lee said, when her California teammates – and other excited onlookers – told her she’d just put the Bears ahead of Southern California by one stroke with one more Cal golfer, Daniela Holmqvist, coming up the 18th fairway.
“I was like, ‘oh, my God, thank you for not telling me!’ ” Lee said afterward.
Holmqvist, needing only to make par, knocked her approach shot within 20 feet of the pin and easily two-putted to clinch the Pac-12 women’s golf championship for California, which finished one stroke ahead of USC at 17-over-par.
USC freshman Doris Chen shot a 4-under 68 to win the individual championship, one shot ahead of Arizona State’s Giulia Molinaro and UCLA’s Tiffany Lua.
Lee led the way for Cal with a 1-under 71 in the final round to finish at 3-over for the tournament and fourth overall. She rebounded from a 38 on the front nine to shoot 3-under on the back, including a play-it-safe par save on the par-5 17th hole.
Lee missed right with her drive on that tee, then chose to hit a wedge shot about 70 yards out of the rough instead of attempting to clear the ravine. Her third shot was a 5-wood that landed on the green about 50 feet from the hole. She nearly made that putt before tapping in for par.
But it was Lee’s performance on 18 that had spectators buzzing. She played it safe with her drive, then laid up to within about 100 yards. Her third shot stuck six feet from the hole.
Cal coach Nancy McDaniel said she never told any of her players how close the Bears were to winning the team title – instead, she just urged them to stay in the moment.
“She kept reminding me, ‘remember, one shot at a time, be patient,’ ” Lee said. “I was like, ‘all right, I’m just going to calm down,’ and it went in. I didn’t know it was for us to get ahead of SC, but it was a great feeling.”
The win gives Cal its second Pac-12 championship in program history, and first since 2003. The Bears, who were seeded fifth in the conference entering the weekend, clinch an automatic berth to the NCAA regionals.
“We’re super stoked, I would say,” McDaniel said. “It’s just a memory that’s burned in our head together that we have forever, and it’s never going to go away.”
Washington State finished in a three-way tie for eighth place with Oregon and Washington at 45-over. Emma Betland, a junior, was WSU’s top finisher, shooting 7-over to tie for 17th place.
California edged Oregon in a two-hole playoff to win the Pac-12 men’s golf championship in Corvallis, Ore.
Both teams were tied at 12-under-par 1,428 after four rounds.
Stanford’s Andrew Yun earned medalist honors with a 13-under 275 total. Oregon’s Daniel Miernicki was second, two strokes off the pace.
Washington placed seventh with a 27-over total of 1,467. Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho, led the Huskies with a 5-under 283. He finished in a two-way tie for ninth place.
Washington State had its worst round of the tournament on the final day, shooting a 387 to finish in ninth place with a 43-over 1483 total.
University graduate Hank Frame topped the Cougars, carding a 2-over 74 to close at 7-over 295. He finished in a three-way tie for 32nd place.
USC was third, followed by UCLA. Utah finished last, 74 shots behind.