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May 24, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The final round of Allison Hanna’s collegiate career was such an important event the NCAA decided it should last two days.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Hanna, a native of Portland, Ore., closed the Ohio State chapter of her golf career Saturday in the final round of the 2004 NCAA Championships in Opelika, Ala., by shooting one-under 71. The final round of the event was suspended Friday when lightning and thunder roared within a five-mile radius of the Grand National Lake Course. Play was delayed nearly two and a half hours and most teams were just starting to make the turn when darkness started to affect play and competition was postponed.

The Buckeyes played well on the final holes Saturday and finished eighth in the championships. It marked the third consecutive year the Buckeyes have finished among the Top 10 in the nation. Hanna fired a four-round total of 289 in her final collegiate tournament, good enough for 12th place on the individual leaderboard.

The team watched on as Hanna, the No. 1 player in the Buckeye lineup, strolled up to the green on her final hole.

There was nothing but a smile from Hanna. Seconds later she sank her final putt for par to finish her one-under round.

“I thought, ‘This is my last putt, so I better make it,'” Hanna said. “I just didn’t want to miss it.”

The smiles continued as she walked off the green to the officials’ tent to turn in her scorecard for the final time.

“It was a good feeling. I think it ended on a good note even though it wasn’t one of my better tournaments. I shot under par in my last round. I started the day with a double-bogey so I was happy to get three birdies.”

Hanna’s parents, Brad and Jeanette, and her grandmother, Flodine, all were on hand to watch her compete in her final tournament as a Buckeye. Over the years, the Hannas have attended all four NCAA championships their daughter competed in, as well as her final Big Ten championships on the Scarlet Course In Columbus and several tournaments on the West coast.

“They have been a great support system,” Hanna said. “No matter what I do they always have something positive to say. My brothers (Eric and J.J) call me, too. They say ‘Good job,’ or, ‘What was with that double?”‘

Her family watched the first half of Hanna’s round Friday afternoon. They had to leave early Saturday morning to catch their flight back to Portland.

“Her final round was very sentimental,” Jeanette Hanna said. “Ohio State has been a great place for Allison. It’s been a great fit for her. She has learned a lot from Coach (Therese Hession), she loves the university and she loves Ohio State athletics.”

Hanna was named a 2004 National Golf Coaches Association First Team All-American, the first Buckeye so named since Cheryl Stacy in 1975. Hanna was a Second Team All-American as a junior last year.

Hanna recorded a 72.58 stroke average in 36 rounds of competition this season, the lowest scoring average in school history. In four years, she didn’t miss a single round for the Buckeyes.

“She is one of the players who was critical in our rise to the top of the (national) rankings,” Therese Hession, Ohio State head coach, said. “Her consistency over the last four years has been tremendous. She made every single trip. The way she was going this year, you could just put a 72 on the board. If it wasn’t that day, it was going to average out. She never got rattled. She was always steady and a calming influence to the rest of the team. Whenever she spoke or had anything to say, they really listened. It’s going to be hard to replace someone like that.”

Coming to Ohio State from almost 3,000 miles away four years ago wasn’t easy for Hanna.

“I was hoping she would choose Oregon State because it was a lot closer to home,” Jeanette Hanna said. “She obviously made the right choice. She is very independent and has enjoyed everything. She has made a lot of good friends that will last a lifetime. She will have a place in her heart for Ohio State all her life. All of us will. We have all become Buckeye fans.”

Hanna’s four years as a member of the Ohio State women’s golf team were full of many accomplishments, awards and even more memories. With the season over and now just a little over two weeks from earning her degree in business finance, the four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete is ready for the next step: turning pro.

Hanna is competing this week in the U.S. Open qualifier is St. Louis, Mo. From there, she’ll drive to Merrillville, Ind., for her first event as a professional. Hanna plans to play this summer on the Futures Tour, the official Developmental Tour of the LPGA. “It’s a new beginning,” Hanna said. “I’ll be out there on my own. I get to play golf for a living – what’s better than that? Nothing is better than that.”

Hession, her family and the rest of the Buckeye team believe Hanna is ready for the challenge. They know she has one key attribute that will put her on top.

“She believes in herself,” Hession said. “I have seen a lot of players go through here that had a lot of talent, but none of them have believed in themselves and known what their abilities are like Allison has. In the next level that is a critical factor. You have to have a lot of confidence in yourself.”

“She has the confidence to do it,” Lindsay Knowlton, a junior member of the Buckeye squad, said.

“She is such a tournament player. This year she knew how to win. I always knew she was going to be at even par or better, which is nice when I was tinkering around in the trees.”

Another characteristic visible to everyone who has watched Hanna over the years is her work ethic.

“She is hungry and her work ethic can easily take her to the next level,” Hession said. “She works on what she needs to work on. She doesn’t just work to put in time. She thinks about what she should be working on and what her weaknesses are. She uses her time very valuably and works on the critical things.”

One example of that, Brad Hanna recalled, was when his daughter drove north for a golf lesson. She not only drove nearly five hours to northern Washington for a two-hour lesson, but drove back home to Portland the same day.

“That’s pretty good dedication,” Brad Hanna said. “Once she challenged her pro to a game of basketball because he was talking about when he played in college. She was really good at basketball in high school. I thought she was going to play NCAA Division I basketball. She’s a competitor.”

Hanna will carry her skills, confidence and work ethic with her to the next level of her golf career. She’ll create a new list of goals to reach just as she did at Ohio State.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Hanna said. “I did everything I wanted to do. I gave it everything I had. I had a lot of fun with my teammates and all the people I have played with over the years.”