RIO VERDE, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's golf team shot a 309 to hold off Xavier for a three-stroke victory at the Rio Verde Invitational Sunday. Freshman Savana Bezdicek paced the Lumberjacks with one-over par 73 to win her second individual title of the season.
"It was a nice win for us because we had not won in a couple of years," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "We put ourselves in position a couple times in the fall and had a chance to be competitive and win. We let them slip away and for us to dig in, even when we did not play our best golf and win, was huge."
Bezdicek carded a 73 to win by a stroke at even-par 144 and defeat Xavier's Shane Crutchfield and teammate Stephanie Kim, who each finished at one-over par 145. Bezdicek trailed Kim and Eastern Michigan's Meredith Fairbairn by one stroke entering the final round.
"I actually never looked at the scores," said Bezdicek. "I did not know I had a shot of winning it until afterward and there was still another player to come in. So I was the most nervous waiting. It was intense."
The Colbert, Wash., won the second title of her initial collegiate season after claiming the Cal Poly Lady Mustang Invitational to close the fall campaign.
"She has been playing great," said Bedortha. "I thought the golf course set up for her because she could hit her driver and go for some par 5s in two which she was able to. She played beautifully."
NAU entered the final round with a nine-stroke lead after posting an even-par 288 in the first round on Saturday. The Lumberjacks held the lead for most of the day before falling back by one stroke with three holes to play.
With Bezdicek and Kim in the clubhouse, junior Kaitlen Parsons and sophomore Laura Jabczenski finished off the victory by combining to play their final three holes in a cumulative one-over par to secure the three-stroke victory.
"All of those shots count especially when you are counting four scores," said Bedortha. "Every little thing matters…At the end of the day, it is a team game and they all stepped up and we got it done."
Parsons recorded an eight-over par 80 in the final round, while Jabczenski had an 81. Sophomore Darian Spivey posted an 86 in the final round.
NAU posted a two-round total of 597 to win the team title by three strokes over Xavier (600) and four strokes over Arkansas-Little Rock and Eastern Michigan, who both posted 601.
Bezdicek opened her round with nine consecutive pars before making birdie on the 10th hole. She followed with a bogey on 11 before getting another birdie on 12. She remained at one-under par until a bogey on the 15th hole and closed her round with a bogey on the 18th.
Kim, who led the tournament after a two-under par 70 on Saturday, went out in three-over par 38 over the first nine holes Sunday. After a bogey on 10, she got back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to pull back to two-over par before finishing with a bogey on 18 for a three-over par 75.
"I am so proud of my team," said Kim. "We struggled a little today but it was good to pull it off. Today was a very different round. I probably hit my shots better but I did not make anything out there…It was frustrating at times but I told myself to stay positive no matter what happens on the course. I did that until the very end. I had a chance to come back at the end but was one stroke short."
The Lumberjacks return to action next weekend at the Mountain View Collegiate hosted by Kansas State and Missouri in Tucson March 15-16.
Rio Verde Invitational
White Wing Golf Course
Rio Verde, Ariz.
1. Northern Arizona 288-309 597 +21
2 Xavier 304-296 600 +24
T3. Arkansas-Little Rock 305-296 601 +25
T3. Eastern Michigan 295-306 601 +25
5. Bowling Green State 303-303 606 +30
6. Toledo 300-307 607 +31
T7. Western Michigan 306-303 609 +33
T7. Wichita State 303-306 609 +33
9. Missouri State 305-306 611 +35
10. Ball State 300-312 612 +36
11. Montana 312-305 617 +41
12. Northern Illinois 307-311 618 +42
13. Bradley 314-305 619 +43
14. UMKC 310-312 622 +46
15. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 308-317 625 +49
16. Ohio 318-317 635 +59
17. Akron 321-316 637 +61
1. Savana Bezdicek, Northern Arizona 71 73 144 E
T2. Shane Crutchfield, Xavier 74 71 145 +1
T2. Stephanie Kim, Northern Arizona 70 75 145 +1
4. Emelie Westrup, Arkansas-Little Rock 73 73 146 +2
T5. Meredith Fairbairn, Eastern Michigan 71 76 147 +3
T5. Shelby Wilson, Bowling Green State 72 75 147 +3
7. Megan Thompson, Missouri State 76 72 148 +4
T8. Heather Marks, Western Michigan 75 74 149 +5
T8. Sarah Johnson, Eastern Michigan 73 76 149 +5
T8. Malin Lundberg, Arkansas-Little Rock 80 69 149 +5
T8. Sathika Ruenreong, Toledo 73 76 149 +5
T8. Meghan Schuetz, Wichita State 74 75 149 +5
Other NAU Results
T30. Kaitlen Parsons 73-80 153
T70. Darian Spivey 74-86 160
T70. Laura Jabczenski 79-81 160