Ireland’s Lauren Walsh aims for LPGA after helping Wake Forest to historic NCAA win
Lauren Walsh is looking forward to joining Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow on the LPGA Tour after clinching the winning point to help Wake Forest claim their first NCAA Division 1 Women's title in Arizona.
The Castlewarden star (22), a two-time Curtis Cup player, plans to turn professional this summer and head for the LPGA Tour Q-School.
The trip to Q-School clashes with the KPMG Women's Irish Open at Dromoland Castle but on the evidence of her stellar career at Wake Forest, it won't be long before Walsh is starring in the professional ranks.
She was sensational in the NCAA Division 1 finals at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale over the past week, finishing tied seventh in the individual standings despite running up a nightmare 11 at the par-five fourth in a third-round 79.
She'd opened with two 67s to head the field by five shots but bounced back from her setback at the fourth, where she got stuck in a cavernous bunker, to play the remaining holes in level par.
A final round 69 saw her finish seventh on six-under, just four shots behind world No 1 Rose Zhang.
But she put her personal disappointment behind her to help Wake Forest win their first national title.
After halving her first two matches in the quarter-finals and semis, she beat Brianna Navarrosa 3&2 in the anchor match to give Wake Forest a 3-1 win over the University of Southern California in Wednesday night’s final.
"It's such a long, exhausting week," a delighted Walsh said after a memorable win. "We flew out last week; we've two practice days, and then four days of strokeplay and two days a matchplay with one of them being 36 holes.
"So it's something like eight rounds in seven days. And that's a lot of golf for us. But, you know, that's why we get up and work out every week. And that's why we practice every day. It makes all those hours we put into it, so worth it.
"Not only was it a long week, we're out here and it's 37-38 degrees Celsius every day. And that really takes it out of you as well. And obviously, being from Ireland, we're not quite used to those temperatures.
"But you know, we just had to battle through this week and face some adversity and keep moving forward."
Walsh was one of five Wake Forest players named on the All-ACC team, making her a three-time winner of that honour.
Ranked 48th in the world though she has soared as high as 10th, she is Ireland's top-ranked amateur and just the second to win the NCAA title after Olivia Mehaffey won as a freshman with ASU in 2017.
She won twice in 2020 and racked up 15 top-10 finishes in her Wake Forest career.