'Storybook ending' for Stanford golf star Rachel Heck, who has decided to go out on top

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Rachel Heck's championship-clinching birdie at La Costa Resort & Spa's North Course caps her college career after star made decision that shocked golf world

There wasn’t much of a sunset Wednesday, with the marine layer hugging the coast and blocking the sun’s descent into the Pacific Ocean. As far as a sunset to a career, it was glorious. Rachel Heck lagged a birdie putt to a few inches on the 15th green to score the clinching point in No. 1-ranked Stanford’s 3-2 victory against

in the match play final at the NCAA women’s golf championships on Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s North Course. She sprinted into the arms of jubilant teammates and soon was in a golf cart riding to the 16th green for the trophy presentation. “A storybook ending,” she said to her teammates in the cart, shaking her head. Not a bad way to go out. Heck came to Stanford in 2020 as one of the country’s most decorated junior golfers, then had a freshman season for the ages: a scoring average of 69.

”s Kate Villegas on the 13th hole before clinching at 15. “I’m honestly still speechless,” Heck said. “I mean, this is the moment that kept me going through the injuries, just picturing this. The fact that it happened is absolutely unreal.” What carried her, though, was a decision she made months ago that shocked the golf world given her generational talent: She’s not turning pro.

’s points came from Zoe Campos and Caroline Canales, the latter after holing out from the fairway on 18. The NCAA format is grueling — four rounds of stroke play followed by three rounds of match play, a possibility of 126 holes in six days. Everyone else will take a few days off, then head back to the range to grind some more. Not Heck. She might play some amateur tournaments, when or if work permits. “It’s a little bit more enjoyable because this really is it for me,” Heck said.

 

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