GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the second straight year and the 18th time in school history, the third-ranked Duke women’s golf team captured the ACC Championship on Sunday as the Blue Devils turned in a 54-hole total of 882 to win by 24 strokes at the 6,210-yard, Par 71 Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
“It never looked easy to me today,” said head coach Dan Brooks. “The greens firmed up and they were a little bit tough to read. I thought we might be losing ground and we ended up getting a bigger lead. It was great.”
Duke posted rounds of 293, 292 and 297 for a 30-over-par ledger, dealing with high winds and very challenging Bermuda greens. N.C. State (906), Virginia (909), Florida State (919), North Carolina (924), Miami (924), Wake Forest (925), Maryland (944) and Boston College (946) closed out the field.
“The cold, I don’t think was really anything,” commented Brooks on the weather conditions. “I think the swirling wind was [challenging] and the fact the wind was drying the greens out. They are new greens, they are probably a little firmer than they will be in time and they are Bermuda. That was the toughest part was the firmness today.”
Brooks posted his 17th ACC Championship over his 29 seasons as Duke, including the Blue Devils’ first victory of the 2012-13 campaign. Brooks now owns 113 career wins to increase his NCAA-best victory total.
Brooks on the team’s continued success, “If I knew that formula, maybe I could keep it going. Obviously, we have had a few years where we haven’t been up here. We won last year and this year, but we took a little dip there. We are just thankful where we are.”
As a team, Duke featured four out of the top six on the final leaderboard on Sunday – Laetitia Beck (2nd), Alejandra Cangrejo (T3rd), Lindy Duncan (T3rd) and Celine Boutier (T6th). Virginia’s Brittany Altomare claimed the first ACC Individual title for the Cavaliers with a three-day total of 217.
Beck, who is out of Caesarea, Israel, turned in her fourth straight top 10 finish with rounds of 74, 73 and 72 for a total of 219. She opened the day with an eventful first six holes with one par, two birdies and three bogeys. Beck then played the next seven holes at two-under-par and had inched to within two strokes of the individual leader Altomare.
“It is great to win, especially because last week we were leading after the first and second rounds,” said Beck. “We were really close this year but never won. It is great to finally be No. 1.”
Beck suffered a bogey on No. 14 and then hit her approach shot into the water at the par five 15th, on her way to finishing with a double-bogey. She closed the day with a birdie on No. 18 to finish with a 72, which was two shots back from the individual champion. Beck had a team-best 27 putts in the final round to go along with eight fairways and nine greens.
“Everything was average,” commented Beck on her play this week. “I am not happy with the way I played this week. Even today I made a lot of birdies, but then also a lot of mistakes. I am not happy but I was able to shoot good enough scores to be at the top of the leaderboard. For me, it was very hard to judge the distance, especially since the greens were so firm.”
A native of Bogota, Columbia, Cangrejo tied for third with rounds of 72, 77 and 72 for a 221 ledger. She was three-over-par over her first 13 holes with bogeys on No. 4, No. 5 and No. 11. The junior then hit her approach on the 402-yard, par four 14th within a few feet and drained the putt for her first birdie of the day. The birdie was one of only four over the three rounds on the challenging 14th hole. Cangrejo then birdied the 140-yard, par three No. 16 to move back to one-over-par. She hit 14 greens, eight fairways and had 32 putts on the day.
Duncan, who was the defending ACC Champion, couldn’t it going in the final round as she closed the weekend with a 77, which was the worst score in a collegiate tournament since her sophomore campaign. She suffered a three-putt bogey to start the day, but went back to even-par after she nearly holed her tee shot on the 170-yard, par three third hole and went on to make a birdie. Duncan, who is out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., suffered bogeys on No. 4, No. 6 and No. 7, making the turn at three-over-par, 38.
On the 11th hole, Duncan hit what seemed to be a great shot into the green but the ball went off the green, on the cart path and out of bounds. She concluded with an unfortunate double-bogey and finished the weekend with a bogey on No. 18. Duncan hit nine greens, nine fairways and had 31 putts on the afternoon.
Duncan now owns 19 career top five finishes, which ranks tied for fourth on Duke’s career charts along with Beth Bauer. Her 30 career top 10 finishes ranks tied for second and the 37 top 20 placements is second all-time on the Blue Devil lists.
Playing in her first ACC Championship, Boutier closed the weekend with rounds of 74, 73 and 76 for a total of 223. The Montrouge, France product was around the flags all weekend but couldn’t get any putts to drop. On Sunday, she hit 11 greens, 10 fairways and had 34 putts. Boutier totaled six bogeys on the day and rolled in her only birdie on the closing 18th hole to finish with a 76.
Senior Courtney Ellenbogen turned in a final round of 77 and finished the tournament tied for 25th with a three-day total of 234. Ellenbogen, who is from Blacksburg, Va., had a solid round, but unfortunately had two swings that led to two double-bogeys on No. 7 and No. 9. She registered one birdie on the day, which came on the 392-yard, par four second hole. Over the 18 holes, Ellenbogen hit nine fairways, eight greens and had 31 putts.
With the victory on Sunday, Brooks has now collected at least one team victory in 28 of his 29 years at Duke.
“It is great,” said Brooks on winning the first tournament of the season. “More than anything, I want them to have a reward for hard work. They have really put a lot of hard work in. I am very excited about that.”
Duke will next await the NCAA selection show on Monday, April 29 at 9:00 p.m., when the regional selections will be announced. The three sites for the 2013 regionals include Auburn, Oklahoma and Stanford from May 9-11.