HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. - A collegiate career that included three ODAC individual titles, a national championship title, a national Player of the Year award, a first-ever DIII claim to the Virginia State Player of the Year award, and Bridgewater College's first-ever four-time All-American athlete came to an end one as senior Christina Herbert missed the cut on Thursday at the 2018 NCAA Championship at Mission Inn Resort.
Herbert, who entered the third round needing to make up some ground in order to make the cut, struggled for a second straight day with a two-way miss that made scoring difficult. Her score of 83 on Thursday left her in 47th place and five shots out of the final individual spot.
"This is only the second year the NCAA has had a cut on the women's side and it seems a bit unfortunate," said head coach John Rogers. "Here's the defending national champion and she's still almost in the top third of the field, but she does not get to finish the event. When they cut the bottom 10 teams they let any of the players on those teams count in the six spots reserved for individuals -- so now there's 56 players fighting for only six spots. Granted, this was far from Christina's best performance, but it's sad to see her career cut short when she's still ahead of 83 players in the field."
Herbert was in the 7th individual spot most of the day and was playing with Meghan Symonds of Sewanee, who held the final spot inside the cut line. Herbert could not find early momentum after starting on the 10th hole, which she bogied. Back to back double bogies on #13 and #14 left Herbert trailing Symonds by as many as eight strokes.
The defending champion would not go down without a fight, and she played the next eleven holes at just three over par to draw within three shots of the cut, a stretch that included a birdie on the par-5 17th hole. But for the second day in a row, the par-3 8th hole broke her momentum. After a sextuple-bogey on the peninsula hole on Wednesday, Herbert ran into trouble again Thursday, taking a triple-bogey that left her with only one hole to play and a six-stroke deficit to make up.
Also for the second day in a row, Herbert birdied the 9th hole to finish the day, but sadly this time it also marked the end of her career. "Golf can be a brutal game sometimes," noted Rogers. "You just go through these random little stretches where you have a hard time executing. It was just bad timing that Christina hit a slump this week."
Margaret Loncki of Claremont Mudd Scripps holds a three shot lead going into the final round and has led her team to a four stroke lead over Williams College for the team championship.
Herbert led all ODAC players in the field, and Washington & Lee, playing on the conference's first Automatic Qualifier (claimed by winning the conference championship) was the first team outside the cut.
"I've got to admit it was a little tough walking down the final fairway with Christina today," said Rogers. "This was practically a brand new program when she arrived four years ago, and she helped put us on the map. She is an amazing competitor, but on top of that she is an Academic All-American, and better yet, she is a golden-hearted, classy person. All of us at Bridgewater hate to see her go, and it was sad to have this final walk arrive one day early."