ATLANTA – Casey Danielson knew she was closing in on her first college title.
The Stanford senior had blown a chance to win a few weeks ago at the Pac-12 Preview, and now she was leading by two shots coming down the stretch at East Lake.
She promptly bogeyed the 17th, after an errant drive into the trees, and up ahead her Cardinal teammate, standout freshman Andrea Lee, birdied the par-5 finisher to post 4-under 68. A few minutes later, Danielson missed her 15-foot birdie attempt to win.
Waiting outside the scoring room, Lee hugged Danielson and moaned, “I don’t want to play against you.”
It took six playoff holes, but Lee prevailed to win the 18-hole individual title at the East Lake Cup.
“It was kind of tough to play for that medalist spot,” Danielson said afterward, “but it’ll make us both better in the long run.”
Lee has been arguably the best player in women’s college golf this fall, finishing inside the top 3 in every start this fall.
“She’s so steady and level-headed,” Danielson said. “I’ve already learned so much from her already.”
It’s unusual to see teammates playing off for a title, but there was no awkwardness afterward. There couldn’t be – Danielson and Lee are sharing a room this week.
“I’m going to kick her out,” Danielson joked.
At 6 under, Stanford earned the No. 1 seed in stroke-play qualifying, followed by UCLA (1 under), Duke (2 over) and defending NCAA champion Washington (28 over).
On the men’s side, Texas junior Scottie Scheffler used seven birdies to shoot 66 and take the individual title by two shots over Vanderbilt’s Will Gordon and Illinois’ Nick Hardy.
It still wasn’t enough for Texas (1 under) to gain the top spot, as the Longhorns fell short of Vanderbilt’s 6 under total. Illinois (even) and Oregon (7 over) were third and fourth, respectively.
Tuesday will feature semifinal matches, followed by the championship and consolation matches on Wednesday.