ALLENDALE, Mich. -- The Rollins women's golf team overcame horrid weather, lofty expectations and a determined field to become the first ever program with four NCAA Division II National Championships as Rollins rolled to the 2006 title on Saturday. Senior Mariana De Biase birdied the final two holes to complete a round of even par and capture the individual title by one stroke.
The Tars carded rounds of 297, 314 and 308 for a tournament total of 919 and finished six shots ahead of runner-up Ferris State University. The margin of victory was the closest in Rollins championship run as they won the previous three titles by an average of 47 strokes. Lynn University was a distant third, 32 strokes behind Rollins with host Grand Valley State and Western Washington rounding out the top five.
We struggled a little today, but that's why you build leads, said Rollins head coach, and the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year, Julie Garner. This championship is very emotional since it's the end of the line for our seniors. All of our titles have been very different, this one was a little exciting since it was so close, but I can't think of a better way to end this amazing run.
De Biase birdied 17 and 18, all while knowing the leader's score in the clubhouse, to capture the individual crown. The Rio de Janeiro native was the most consistent player the entire week, shooting 74 in each of the first two rounds before firing even par 72 on Saturday for a total of 220 strokes. She went into the day tied with Florida Southern's Lindsey Bergeon atop the leader board and knew where she stood the entire round. De Biase bogeyed No. 2, birded No. 4 and bogeyed No. 7 to head into the turn one over on the day. She lost another stroke on the par four 15 th , but posted two amazing birdies on the final two holes to snatch away the championship.
There isn't a better unheralded player in the country than Mariana, said Garner. To do what she did in these conditions was absolutely amazing. Heading down the stretch, I didn't tell her the team score, but knew if she took care of herself, we would be fine.
Fellow senior Charlotte Campbell ended her spectacular career with a solid seventh place finish. The four-time National Player of the Year, opened the tournament with a 73, struggled to an 84 in the second round and came back with a 76 on Saturday to finish four shots back of De Biase. Battling a head cold since the Tars left Winter Park, she got off to a rough start on Saturday, swallowing bogey on each of the first two holes. She got back on track with a birdie on No. 5 and played just two more holes over par the rest of the way.
Marie-Pierre Bernier and Vanessa Vela tied for 10 th place, each totaling 236 strokes in the tournament. Bernier carded rounds of 77-76-83 in the tournament while Vela went 74-81-81. After a spectacular round in winter-like conditions on Friday, Bernier couldn't get rolling on Saturday, shooting par on nine holes, taking bogey on eight and carding a triple on No. 7. Vela birdied two of the first three holes before carding five bogeys to finish out the front. She birdied No. 10 and got up and down for par on 18, which proved to be a huge score for Rollins in the team scoring. Freshman Cristina Gugler ended her first championship in a tie for 14 th place after rounds of 76-83-79. She was solid on the front, taking bogey on two of the first three holes, but carding birdie on No. 4 to make the turn at one over. The back wasn't as kind, but her 79 was still one of the top scores in the final round.
The victory solidifies Rollins place in the history books as they have won a school best 11 national championships and an NCAA Division II best four (2006, 2005, 2004, 2003), breaking their tie with rival Florida Southern. Mariana De Biase and Charlotte Campbell become two of very few student-athletes to capture four national championships in their careers.