FRANKLIN, Tenn. - For the second straight day, the fifth-ranked Duke women’s golf team struggled to get putts to drop as the Blue Devils carded a third round 301 at the NCAA Championship and enters Friday’s final day tied for 11th overall at the 6,377-yard, par 72 Vanderbilt Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Tenn.
After holding a double-digit team lead in the third round, Alabama shot 13-over-par over its final four holes to shot 306 on Thursday and is at a 54-hole total of 877. Alabama holds a two-stroke lead over Southern Cal (879), while Purdue (883), South Carolina (883), Virginia (883), LSU (884), North Carolina (885), Arizona State (887), UCLA (888), Oklahoma (888), Duke (892) and Florida (892) round out the top 12. The Blue Devils are only nine shots out of third place.
“We had another day where I think we struck the ball better than we scored,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “We didn’t really stay tough out there. It was very similar to yesterday.”
After posting an one-over-par, 289, in round one, Duke has collected rounds of 302 and 301 the last two days. The Blue Devils are hitting the ball well, but just cannot get many putts to drop on the greens. For the round, three different Duke golfers had 35 or more putts. The Blue Devils carded 11 birdies on the day as the Blue Devils opened on hole No. 10.
“Toughness in golf is not trying harder,” said Brooks. “Sometimes it is keeping things in perspective. It takes a lot of toughness to take it in stride, accept your mistakes, move on, don’t dwell on what you have done and don’t let things get you down. That is what it means to be tough. We need to get better at that.”
Continuing to play the best golf of her career, Stacey Kim currently leads Duke with a three-day total of 219 with rounds of 72, 75 and 72. She sits at three-over-par for the tournament, which is tied for 11th. Over her last five rounds, Kim has collected even par rounds in four of those.
“She has just been great,” commented Brooks on the play of Kim. “I haven’t actually seen a lot of her golf because I know she is playing well. I have just let her do her thing and tried to be where I can help out the others a little bit.”
On the day, Kim opened with eight straight pars before rolling in her first birdie of the day on the 464-yard, par five 18th hole. Kim, who is out of Columbus, Ga., made a great sand save for par on the very challenging 154-yard, par three 16th to keep her score at even par on the front. She suffered her first bogey of the day on No. 3, but came right back and drained a 28-foot putt on the fourth hole to get back to one-under-par.
After her tee shot on the par three fifth hole came up short and to the right, Kim suffered another bogey to get back to even par. She closed with four consecutive pars to finish with a 72. Kim hit 14 greens, 11 fairways and had 31 putts on the afternoon.
Continuing to struggle with the putter, Lindy Duncan carded her second straight round of 75 on Thursday and enters the final round tied for 17th with a 220. For only the second time this season, Duncan notched back-to-back rounds of over par. The No. 1 ranked golfer in the nation, Duncan hit 14 greens, nine fairways and had a season-high 36 putts.
Duncan continues to deal with a cold since arriving at nationals this week and will look to finish strong as she hasn’t placed out of the top 10 all season long. On the day, Duncan suffered bogeys on No. 12 and No. 14 before hitting in the sand trap on No. 16 and then three-putting for double-bogey to fall to four-over-par.
A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Duncan sank a short birdie on No. 18 to move back to three-over-par and went on to play the final nine at even par with seven pars, one birdie on No. 9 and a bogey on No. 4.
Leading the individual action is Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil and Arizona State’s Giulia Molinaro with a four-under-par, 212. Tessa Techman of LSU and Brooke Pancake are tied for second at three-under-par (213).
After shooting 72 and 74 the first two rounds, sophomore Alejandra Cangrejo turned in a 77 on Thursday and is tied for 34th overall with a 223. Cangrejo, a product of Bogota, Colombia, also struggled with the putter finishing with 35 putts on the day. She opened her round with bogeys on No. 11, No. 12 and No. 15 to drop to three-over-par, which is where she made the turn.
Cangrejo had an eventful final nine holes with one double-bogey, two pars, three birdies and three bogeys. For the second straight day, Cangrejo birdied both par fives -- No. 7 and No. 9. Her birdies came at No. 1 as she drained a five-footer, No. 7 with a 15-footer and on No. 9 from eight feet. Cangrejo suffered four three-putts, while hitting 13 greens and 12 fairways on the day.
Courtney Ellenbogen turned in a 78 in the third round and is tied for 98th overall with 18 holes remaining. Ellenbogen, who is from Blacksburg, Va., was two-over-par through nine holes as she totaled one birdie, three bogeys and five pars. She sank a 12-foot birdie on the 547-yard, par five 14th in the opening nine. After posting double-bogeys on No. 16 the first two days, Ellenbogen hit the green off the tee and two-putted for par on Thursday.
Over her first six holes on the final nine, she struggled with three bogeys and one double-bogey to drop to seven-over-par. Ellenbogen closed the day with two pars and a birdie on No. 9, as she rolled in a six-footer. On the afternoon, she hit 11 fairways, 12 greens and had 35 putts.
Sophomore Laetitia Beck had a great round except for one tough hole as she suffered a quadruple-bogey on the 403-yard, par four 15th on her way to turning in a 77 in the third round. A native of Caesarea, Israel, Beck owns a three-day total of 233 and is tied for 101st overall.
Beck was even par prior to making an eight on No. 15 and then she went on to make the turn at six-over-par. She turned it around and had the best final nine on the team shooting one-under-par with birdies on No. 4 and No. 9. Her only bogey on the back came on the 382-yard, par four eighth hole as her approach shot went just long and she couldn’t get it up and down. For the day, she hit five fairways, eight greens and had 31 putts.
Duke will tee off beginning at 12:03 p.m., on Friday in the final round off No. 10 along with Florida and Oklahoma.
“They are already talking about the right stuff,” said Brooks on what he will tell the team going into tomorrow. “They have seen some teams fall back. They know we can make a big move. The odds of winning it are slim but not gone. We’ve seen a lot of pretty cool stuff happen late in this tournament over the years.”
• Duke will be looking to finish in the top 10 for the 11th straight NCAA Championship in which it has appeared in.
• Duke is a combined 11-over-par on the 154-yard, par three 17th hole through three days.
• The Blue Devils were seven-under-par on the par fives on Thursday. On Wednesday, Duke was two-over-par.
• Four of Duke’s five golfers had a double-bogey or worse on the day.
• Four of Duke’s five golfers posted a birdie on No. 9.
• The Blue Devils feature no seniors on the roster in 2011-12.