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Ulster's Olivia is so proud after leading Arizona State to title joy

By Adam McKendry

County Down golfer Olivia Mehaffey played a vital role as the Arizona State Sun Devils won the NCAA Women's Golf Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois.

Mehaffey, a freshman at Arizona State (ASU), won all three of her matches on the way to the Sun Devils' first triumph in the event since 2009.

She picked up an easy 5&4 win over Samantha Wagner in Arizona's quarter-final against Florida, and then defeated World Amateur No.8 Andrea Lee in a thrilling semi-final against Stanford.

With bad weather affecting play, the last-four tie was postponed overnight with the Sun Devils on the verge of elimination despite Mehaffey's win, but after the restart Arizona rallied to victory thanks to comebacks from Linnea Strom and Individual Champion Monica Vaughn.

That set up a final with local favourites Illinois Northwestern, who had recorded the top score in the strokeplay portion of the tournament, making them top seeds. But in the end it wasn't a tough match-up for the rampant Sun Devils, and the tie yielded another victory for Mehaffey, 4&3 over Sarah Cho.

Mehaffey was first to win, and from there it was straightforward for Arizona State who coasted to victory and sealed their first title in eight years, their eighth overall.

Mehaffey said: "I don't even know what to say but wow! I feel so lucky to be part of the Sun Devil family and get to compete for my dream school.

"Today has been one of the best days of my life and I'm so proud to see our dream of winning a National Championship come true.

"Hard work pays off."

• Graeme McDowell fired an impressive opening round of four-under-par 66 to lie joint second in the clubhouse at the Dean & Deluca Invitational.

The Portrush golfer carded four birdies in a bogey-free round to lie one behind leader, American Derek Fathauer, at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

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