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Isabella McCauley isn't much of a scoreboard-watcher. Midway through Sunday's final round of the Big Ten women's golf championships, the Gophers sophomore stole one quick glance at the leaderboard, just to get an idea of what it would take to contend for the title.

"On my ninth hole, I made a birdie from a pretty tough spot in the rough," she said. "That definitely brought me to a place where I was like, 'Wow, this could be a pretty special day.' And it just kind of continued."

Special turned out to be an understatement. After she began the day in 18th place, McCauley's dream round — an astonishing 8-under-par 64 — catapulted her to a share of the Big Ten championship. That score tied the course record at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Md., which hosted five LPGA Championships, a major, from 2005 to 2009.

A former Simley High School star and state Class 3A champion, McCauley lopped 10 strokes off her opening-round 74 on the tournament's final day. She started her round on the back nine, and that escape on No. 18 sparked a run that turned a good round into a spectacular one.

McCauley birdied the next three holes, too, on her way to the Gophers' first Big Ten individual title since Kate Hughes won in 1989. McCauley's three-day score of 209 was 7 under, tying her for the crown with Michigan's Monet Chun and Indiana's Caroline Craig.

Gophers coach Rhyll Brinsmead hoped McCauley could shoot well enough Sunday to climb into the top 10. Brinsmead wasn't expecting a championship, but she wasn't completely surprised either.

"It's pretty remarkable," Brinsmead said. "But if anybody's going to do it, Bella is going to do it. For a young person to go out on that stage of that magnitude and shoot a 64, it's pretty cool."

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McCauley has done plenty of cool things in her stellar career, but she couldn't recall ever making such a giant leap up the leaderboard or sinking four consecutive birdies. She managed only one birdie in Friday's opening round, ending a cold, windy day tied for 25th.

Her second-round goal was to hit closer to the pins to set herself up for more birdies, then make those putts. McCauley figured par or slightly under would be "a really great round of golf," and accurate putting gave her a 1-under 71 to move her up to 18th place. Sunday morning was more emotional.

Seniors make up half of the Gophers' eight-player roster, and McCauley wanted to support and celebrate her friends in their final college tournament. Her primary aim was to enjoy the day, but she had something more on her mind.

"Everyone was trying to savor the moment," said McCauley, who tied for second in last year's Big Ten championships. "But I also knew we had a little bit of a job to finish."

After four days on the course, Bulle Rock's mysteries had become clearer to her. The putts were falling early, boosting her confidence. The birdies at holes 18, 1, 2 and 3 made her believe she had a shot to win.

Brinsmead believed it, too. She was following a different Gophers golfer, but she was getting text updates from McCauley's father, Sean, who was at the tournament.

"He was sending me birdie emojis," she said. "The text chain was like: 'Another. Another. Another.' It just started rolling."

After McCauley finished her round, she had to wait to see whether her score would hold up. She watched with Brinsmead and her teammates as Craig missed a short birdie putt on No. 18, preserving the three-way tie for first.

One of McCauley's goals entering the 2023-24 season was to win a college tournament for the first time. She did that in last fall's opener, the Boilermaker Classic.

Now she will go into next month's NCAA regionals as a two-time champion, thanks to an unforgettable round.

"This is something you dream about as a kid," she said. "You pretend a putt is for the Big Ten championship. But it's not something I actually thought would happen."