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May 25, 2012

Alabama golf wins national title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - After 29 years coaching women's collegiate golf, Alabama head coach Mic Potter and his Crimson Tide program are National Champions.

Senior Brooke Pancake made a fantastic two-putt for par on the par-5 18th hole to secure Alabama's first national championship outside of football and women's gymnastics. Pancake's 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th hit the hole and went 4-foot past the hole. She then calmly knocked in the par putt to secure the one-shot win over Southern California.

"When I was standing over (the putt), I kind of had the feeling of, 'This is my moment I've put four years into it, and I can't think of a better way to finish my senior year," Pancake said.

The Crimson Tide shot 6-over 294 on Friday for a 72-hole total of 19-over 1,171 on the par-72, 6,377-yard North Course at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. Southern California was second at 1,172 while LSU was third at 21-over 1,173. Virginia (1,175) and South Carolina (1,176) rounded out the top five.

"I had a lot of confidence (Brooke) was going to make it, so I don't think I was real surprised, but definitely I was relieved," Potter said. "I don't think it has quite sunk in yet, but it was a lot of fun. I have a lot of confidence in these girls, so I knew it was a definite possibility, but golf is a game where we could play as well as we could and still not win. To me it was all about keeping with the process and making sure we saved every shot we could today.
"It hasn't quite hit me yet, but I'm sure tomorrow it will be a dream come true."

Pancake, in her home state for her final collegiate tournament, finished runner-up in the individual race at 2-under-par 286. Oklahoma's Chirapat Jao-Javanil captured medalist honors at 6-under-par 282. Pancake, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native fired rounds of 68, 70, 75 and 73.

"This means so much to him (Potter)," Pancake said. "I can't explain it -- he has been so close so many times, I'm so honored I got to be on the team that did it for him. For him to have hugged me with tears in his eyes afterwards, it was incredible."

Hannah Collier, a native of Birmingham, Ala., fired the Tide's lowest score of the final round with a 2-under-par 70. She made par on the difficult 16th hole, birdie on the 17th and then went for the green in two, hitting her fairway wood roughly 17-feet past the hole and two putted for birdie. Collier finished tied 33rd at 8-over 296.

Junior Jennifer Kirby posted a 74 in Friday's final round and finished tied for 14th at 5-over 293. Stephanie Meadow rebounded in the final round to shoot 77, but was 5-over after five holes and played the final 13 holes in even par. Meadow finished tied for 38th at 9-over 297. Courtney McKim was Alabama's drop score at 78 on Friday.

Alabama's National Championship came on the Crimson Tide's eighth visit to the NCAA Finals. It was Potter's seventh trip to the NCAAs at Alabama and his 22nd NCAA Championships appearance overall for the NGCA Hall of Famer.

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