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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Rachel Heck’s remarkable freshman campaign ended in record fashion: Her 69.72 scoring average set a new NCAA record. Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson held the previous record of 69.76, set in 2018.
Heck won six times in nine starts in 2021, including her last five events. She became the third player in NCAA history to sweep the postseason, winning the Pac-12 Championship, NCAA regionals and nationals. She posted 15 of 25 rounds in the 60s, including 12 consecutive. Her closing 74 at the NCAA Championship was her first over-par round since mid-March.
“She drives the ball really long and really well,” said Walker, “so she’s got short irons in. Every pin is in play for her. A lot these kids are hitting longer clubs and therefore she can get it inside 20 feet … and she’s a heckuva putter.”
The aggressive Heck had a tendency to go for every pin when she arrived at Stanford. Robert, who caddies often for his middle child, noticed a difference in his daughter’s game when he looped for her at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.
Stanford’s Rachel Heck shares a warm embrace with her father after winning the NCAA Championship. (Darren Reese/Stanford)
“I will say that her game has matured tremendously these last three months,” said Robert. “I give coach full credit for that. She’s picking much better shots. Her course management is way ahead of where it was three months ago.”
During the final round of the NCAAs, Walker strode alongside Heck throughout the day helping talk over strategy. Going into the 72nd hole, a 495-yard par 5, she held a one-stroke lead over Emma Spitz.
Heck hit a solid drive, leaving her a 5-iron in from 190 yards. Walker encouraged a conservative approach. Heck hit pitching wedge to 64 yards and then hit a 58-degree wedge for her third shot, two-putting for the championship. She became the first Stanford player to win the NCAA individual title.
“She has, in such a short period, grown into our team leader,” said Walker, “the face of the program and a very deserving face of the program.”
NCAA Division I Scoring Leaders:
Rachel Heck, Stanford (2020-21) 69.72
Lauren Stephenson, Alabama (2017-18) 69.76
Lorena Ochoa, Arizona (2001-02) 70.13
Leona Maguire, Duke (2016-17) 70.29
Lilia Vu, UCLA (2017-18) 70.37
Cheyenne Knight, Alabama (2016-17) 70.45
Maria Fassi, Arkansas (2017-18) 70.50
Kristen Gillman, Alabama (2017-18) 70.55
Jennifer Kupcho, Wake Forest (2017-18) 70.60
Jennifer Kupcho, Wake Forest (2016-17) 70.61
Bronte Law, UCLA (2015-16) 70.61
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