VICTORIA – While the 2019 NAIA women’s golf national championship will go down in history as a record setting week, capped off by a thrilling chase for multiple records on the tournament’s final day, the University of Victoria Vikes women’s golf team will leave Oklahoma a little short. The Vikes women could not crack the Top 17 teams after the opening two rounds to leave just Nicole Gargarella and Sukriti Harjai as the only Victoria contenders through the final 36 holes. When the dust settled on the competition, the UBC Thunderbirds claimed its fifth national crown.
Gargarella finished tied for 16th overall after shooting a 74 and 72 in her third and fourth rounds, respectively, to finish with a 295 (+7) after four days. First-year Vike Harjai finished tied for 25th after impressive third and fourth rounds of 73 each day. Harjai totalled 299 (+11) over the week and made an impressive showing for her first appearance at the NAIA Championship. Vikes Rhiannon Jones, Melanie Murchison and Quinn Fitzgerald rounded out the Vikes contingent but the trio were unable to crack the competitive Top 40 to advance as individuals or as a team.
UBC (1,175) fired a fourth sub-300 round and set a new tournament record for the third-straight day as the T-Birds held off the Keiser University (Fla.) Seahawks (1,180) to claim the title. The teams shot identical rounds of 291 on the tournament’s final day, which preserved UBC’s five shot lead. SCAD-Savannah (Ga.) finished with a 292 to claim third at 1,190, Oklahoma City University fired a 293 and finished fourth at 1,195, and the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) rounded out the top five with a round of 300 to finish the Championship at 1,204.
Michela Tjan of Keiser claimed the individual title, also in record-setting fashion. She shot below par in each of her last three rounds, and she posted a 72-hole tournament record total of 284 (-4). Arvil Li of UBC also broke the even par barrier, posting a 287 (-1).
The top seven individual finishers all broke the old 72-hole tournament record. In addition to Tjan, four other golfers laid claim to being the leader in the clubhouse with a record setting total. Overall, seven of a possible eight record totals were set during the week. The only record that survived the tournament was the 36-hole individual record.
Following the NAIA Championship, the Vikes will have one week to regroup for the Golf Canada Canadian University/College National Championship hosted in Komoka, Ont. from May 27-30.