ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- After dominating the field at the 2011 Ivy League Women's Golf Championship on Friday and Saturday, Michelle Piyapattra had a six-stroke lead heading into the final day of the event. The first-year player from Corona, Calif., playing in her first conference championship, did not disappoint on Sunday, firing the best round of her young collegiate career -- a three-under par 69 -- to become the second Lion in program history to take home medalist honors at the event.
With the victory, Piyapattra earns a spot in the Monday qualifier at the LPGA ShopRite Classic on May 30. Piyapattra, who bested Harvard's Mia Kabasakalis by 10 strokes, joins Sara Ovadia '09CC (2007) as the only Columbia women's golfers to earn top honors at the Ivy League Championship.
Staked with a six-stroke cushion heading into Sunday, Piyapattra got off to a hot start by birdieing the par-5 first hole. Over the 54-hole tournament, Piyapattra blazed the par-5 holes at seven-under par (4.53 stroke average) en route to her third tournament victory of the season.
After bogeying the second, Piyapattra steadied the ship and birdied the second par-5 hole on the front nine to move to one-under on her round. After making the turn at 36, the first-year birdied again at the 10th to move to two-under for her round and into red numbers for the tournament.
Three holes later, Piyapattra once again took advantage of her length off the tee by birdieing her fourth par-5 hole of the final round and moving to three-under. A small hiccup on the 14th moved her back down to two-under, but the first-year made a beautiful tee shot on the par-3 17th en route to birdie. Piyapattra finished out her round with a par on the 18th.
Despite carding five birdies on her day, Piyapattra could not claim the highest total for an individual in the tournament on Sunday. In fact, she couldn't earn bragging rights on her own team, as junior Robin Lee carded six birdies over her 18 holes on Sunday, including an incredible stretch from the 8th through 12th holes where she had four straight birdies to get to one-under par on her round.
Lee finished out her round with a two-over par 74, the best round of the tournament by a Columbia player outside of Piyapattra. Lee's classmate, Lynda Kwon, had a bounce-back day on Sunday, shaving an incredible 12 strokes from her second-round score and ended with a 78. As a team, Columbia carded an event-best 302 which was 19 strokes better than its first-day score to close in fifth place as a team.
Rounding out Columbia's competitors were first-year Jane Dong and sophomore Ashley Zambito. Dong completed her first Ivy League Championship in 24th place at 243, while Zambito had her best round of the tournament on Sunday at 82.