FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Chirapat Jao-Javanil could have been rattled after landing her tee shot in a lake alongside the right fairway on No. 18 in Friday's final round at the NCAA Women's Golf Championship, her ninth hole of the day.
But Jao-Javanil quickly recovered after taking a glimpse at a florescent green bracelet on her right wrist. The bracelet was worn all week by members of the Oklahoma women's golf team in support of Lorelei Decker, an Edmond teenager battling cancer.
The Sooners' sophomore responded with a birdie on No. 1 to regain sole possession of the lead, and added two more birdies over her final three holes to defeat Alabama golfer Brooke Pancake by four shots and win the NCAA individual title.
Jao-Javanil, who finished with a final-round 70 for a 6-under 282 over the four-day tournament, became the first golfer in the program's history to win an individual national championship. Two Sooner golfers on the men's side — Walter Emery (1933) and Jimmy Vickers (1952) — also won individual crowns.
The 19-year old from Hua-Hin, Thailand, was greeted with a hug by her mother, Chanasthorn, who made a 20-hour flight several weeks ago to watch her daughter in the postseason. Moments later, Jao-Javanil spoke with Decker by phone behind the No. 9 green at Vanderbilt's Legends Club.
“I told her I ran into some trouble on 18, but I shouldn't freak out over just hitting it in the water,” Jao-Javanil said. “She's the most alive person I've seen. That put into perspective what's important in life. It was cool to play for her.”
Pancake trailed by just a shot when Jao-Javanil had an approach from 237 yards on the par-5 No. 7. Jao-Javanil unleashed a 4-wood that bounced before the green and landed roughly 30 feet above the hole. The OU golfer nearly holed out an eagle putt, as the ball stopped roughly six inches in front of the cup.
Jao-Javanil again demonstrated touch around the green on the par-5, No. 9, her final hole of the tournament. After her approach landed in the right fringe just outside the green, Jao-Javanil placed a chip less than two feet from the hole.
“I always aim for the hole,” Jao-Javanil said. “I missed it, but it was close enough so it wasn't too far coming back.”