When Valeria Pacheco didn’t see her dad, Javier Pacheco, rooting her on Wednesday for the final round of the NCAA Albuquerque Women’s Golf Regional at the UNM Championship Course, she wasn’t too concerned even though he had been at the course the previous two days.
Pacheco, whose even-par 72 helped TCU by a single stroke snag the fourth and final team slot in the NCAA Women’s Championships from May 20-25 in Scottsdale, Arizona, was told her dad had a work issue.
That wasn’t exactly the truth.
“He’s doing good,” Pacheco said. “He got out of surgery about an hour ago. He just called me. I didn’t even know. They told me he had a work emergency because he was supposed to be here (Wednesday) but he was actually at the hospital getting surgery.”
When they first spoke after Wednesday’s round, he was still reluctant to tell his daughter that his gall bladder had been successfully removed and was resting at UNM Hospital.
“At first I was like, ‘Hi, how are you, how’s it going, we made it,'” she said. “And he said, ‘I know. Congratulations.’ And then he Facetimed me and I saw he was in the hospital. And I was like, ‘What happened?’ But he’s OK.”
Papa Pacheco was expected to remain in the hospital overnight Wednesday before returning to his home in south Florida today.
It was a happy ending for the Horned Frogs as well as tournament winner and No. 2 Oregon – which won for the fifth time this season. Briana Chacon helped the Ducks to a 4-under 860, three shots ahead of Texas, coached by former Lobo men’s player Ryan Murphy. They became the first two teams to shoot under par during a women’s postseason event at the course. Chacon went wire-to-wire to win her first collegiate tournament, and her 9-under 207 was the best three-round individual score for a postseason at the course.
“I think I told my coach on the last hole, finally, it’s taken me three years to get my first individual win, but yeah, I thought it was definitely coming sooner than later,” Chacon said. “I was going through a swing change at the beginning of the (school) year, and it took some time to get that down. Now I’m feeling confident and feeling good about my swing.”
Georgia (2-over) took the third spot.
UNM’s Napat “Jenny” Lertsadwattana and Lauren Lehigh, meanwhile, were both were in the running for one of the two spots that goes to individuals not on a qualifying team.
Both finished at 2-over 218, two strokes behind Sam Houston’s Viera Permata Rosada for the final slot.
“I think, as always, nothing replaces experience,” said Lobos coach Jill Trujillo. “If you don’t come ready to play; in your head, physically, mentally, you can be a little tired — the wind, the dust, the fire, the smoke, you have to somehow overcome all of that. And I would hope that both of them would understand that. This is part of the national championship. You cannot bring your B game or C game. You have to bring you’re A-plus game in order to get to where you want to be.”
While Lertsadwattana struggled on the greens, three-putting five holes to finish at 3-over 75, Lehigh put together 15 pars with two bogeys and a birdie to finish with a 1-over 73 that could have been much better.
“The putting has been a little bit of a struggle all week. I finally started hitting down on my lines (Wednesday) and it felt good,” Lehigh said. “I was just an inch off here and an inch off there. I was just right there.”
Lertsadwattana actually was tied for the final slot with three holes to go, but she bogeyed 16 and 17 to fall out of contention.
“I kind of figured that very single shot on the last three holes would be really important, but then I couldn’t still make putts,” she said. “The coaches didn’t tell us at all how close we were to the line. I would say I played under a lot of pressure (Wednesday). I feel like I can play under pressure a lot right now, but maybe I’m little tired right now.”