GREENSBORO, N.C. — Duke University junior Ana Belac carded a four-under-par, 140, over 36 holes Thursday to open the ACC Championship in a tie for second at the 6,080-yard, par 72 Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
A native of Portoroz, Slovenia, Belac kicked off the championship with an even-par, 72, in the first round and then closed the second round with a four-under-par, 68. She trails Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio by three strokes heading into Saturday’s final round. Migliaccio carded rounds of 66 and 71 to finish with a seven-under, 137.
“We haven’t played 36 holes in a while so I was trying to be very patient, especially today, because I knew that it was going to be a long day and if you are not patient from the start it can get really hard to get back on track with your game,” said Belac. “I just felt really good out there. Putts were rolling in most of the time and I was hitting it pretty solid so that enabled me not make too many mistakes and finish at four-under.”
Belac saved the best for last as she registered four birdies and an eagle over her final 18 holes to card her 16th career round in the 60s, which ranks sixth all-time on the Duke charts. She opened her second round on hole No. 2 and fell to one-over-par with a bogey on No. 4 as she missed the green. Belac responded by hitting the 483-yard, par five fifth green in two and two-putted for birdie. She kept her strong play going as she collected a birdie on the 342-yard, par four eighth as she hit her sand wedge from 65 yards to one foot.
“It played pretty hard I think,” commented Belac on how the course played. “You had to be in the right spots a lot of times because the wind was gusty. Sometimes the shots were not ending up where you thought they would. So patience, again like I said, was the key.”
On the 442-yard, par five 10th, Belac hit her hybrid from 190 yards to 12 feet and sank her second eagle of the season and seventh of her career. Her seven eagles now rank tied fourth most in Duke history. Belac drained a 10-foot birdie on No. 11 to move to four-under and stayed there until No. 17 when she suffered just her second bogey of the afternoon. She closed her round by draining a five-footer for birdie on the 368-yard, par four first hole. Belac hit 14 greens, five fairways and had 30 putts.
In round one, Belac reached two-under-par through 14 holes, but bogeyed No. 17 and No. 18 to close with a 72. She hit 12 greens, nine fairways and had 31 putts.
As a team, Duke posted a one-over-par, 289, in round one and then signed for a four-over, 292, in round two. The Blue Devils feature a five-over-par, 581, through two rounds and is in fourth place. Wake Forest (567) holds a 10-stroke lead over Florida State (577), while Virginia (580) is third and the Blue Devils are fourth.
Duke featured a four-under-par ledger midway through round one, but had 11 bogeys over its final 10 holes to slip down the leaderboard.
“We have played 36 at times in the past,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “It is not something you are really used to, but it was fine. We didn’t play well, but it didn’t have anything to do with 36 holes. It seemed like the putts weren’t falling. Efforts were great, everybody was working hard and I didn’t see any bad attitudes or anything. Everybody was grinding, but we just didn’t get the ball in the hole.”
With rounds of 72 and 74, sophomore Jaravee Boonchant will enter the final round in a tie for 13th with a two-over, 146. She struggled around the green in round one finishing with 35 putts, which included a four-putt double-bogey on the 160-yard, par three seventh. Boonchant, who hails from Bangkok, Thailand, did have a stretch during her first round where she birdied No. 10, No. 11, No. 14 and No. 17 to get back to even par. She hit 15 greens and split 11 fairways.
In round two, Boonchant stuck her approach shot to three feet on No. 1 to get in the red quickly. She would go on to suffer bogeys on No. 4, No. 6 and No. 8 to fall to two-over-par. Boonchant drained a 30-foot birdie on No. 10 and had her third birdie of the round on No. 11 to get back to even. She notched bogeys on No. 16 and No. 17 to close the long day with a 74.
Senior Virginia Elena Carta opened her first round on No. 3 with a bogey, but came back to birdie the short par five fifth. She added birdies on No. 10 and No. 11 to move to two-under-par early in the day. Carta, who is from Udine, Italy, had a bogey on No. 12 and then had bogeys on No. 18 and No. 1 to close her round with a 73.
Carta had a rough opening second nine with five straight bogeys to start, but battled back with two consecutive birdies on No. 10 and No. 11. After a bogey on No. 12, Carta added a sand save birdie on the 445-yard, par five 15th and a birdie on No. 1 to close her round with a 74. She is tied for 18th with a three-over, 147.
Sophomore Miranda Wang had Duke’s best start to the day as she had a par on her opening hole and then turned in her first eagle of the season and second of her career on No. 5. After a bogey on the sixth hole, Wang had a key, long par putt on No. 9, before rolling in birdies on No. 10, No. 13 and No. 15 to move to four-under-par. She would struggle on the greens over her final six holes as she bogeyed four of those to finish at even-par, 72.
She started her final 18 holes with six consecutive pars and then rolled in her second straight birdie on the 10th hole to get to one-under-par. Wang, a product of Beijing, China, added bogeys on No. 11, No. 13 and No. 14, before collecting her second birdie on the par five 15th. She closed with three bogeys over her final six holes to finish with a 76.
Over holes No. 4 through No. 15, Wang was three-under-par for the day, while she was seven-over-par on holes No. 16 through No. 3.
Seeing action in her first ACC Championship, freshman Gina Kim had rounds of 79 and 77 Thursday and is tied for 49th. She was limited to only three birdies on the day.
“The key is going to be a good rest, not get too greedy and not think too much about what the other teams are doing and not trying to force scoring too low,” said Belac on what the team needs to do in final round. “Just be patient and hopefully things turn out well for us.”
Duke will tee off in the final round Saturday, April 20 beginning at 8:30 a.m., along with Louisville and Virginia Tech. Fans will be able to watch Saturday’s final round via ACC Network Extra beginning at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, March 20 with Roy Philpott and Donna Andrews on the call.
“I sometimes do some math with them, which I will probably do in a little bit to make sure they realize how possible it is,” added Brooks. “Anybody can birdie and anyone can bogey. You get the right mix of birdies at the right time and you can take a big bite out of a 14-shot deficit. So you’ve got to keep believing. That is one of the main things in this game is to keep believing in possibilities, when you have team golf going on. More so than individuals. If you were six or seven shots back as an individual, that's different. But we have five players out there and 14 shots is doable.”