The greens were in prime condition, and Brittany Lang took advantage.
The Duke sophomore shot a school-record 64 Monday in the opening round of the NCAA Fall Preview in Sunriver, Ore. Lang’s seven-under-par performance, ignited by a hot putter, lifted the No. 2 Blue Devils to a two-stroke lead after the opening 18 holes.
“She got her putter going,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “These greens are very good greens. They are not terribly undulated. This is the kind of course where you can really get on a roll.”
Lang’s surge into the record books came at the turn when she birdied five consecutive holes to move to seven under. Last season’s National Golf Coaches Association Freshman of the Year did more than just putt well. Stellar iron play propelled her to make birdies on all three par fives. A birdie on the 13th pushed Lang to seven under.
“It feels great and it gives me a lot of confidence,” said Lang, who also shot a 64 during her high school career. “I was pretty steady today. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and five in a row from 9-13.”
Lang’s seven-under score kept the Blue Devils in the lead for much of the day even though all four other Duke golfers shot over par. Duke battled Auburn atop the leaderboard for most of the round, but the Tigers fell back late to end round one in a tie for eighth.
The reigning National Player of the Year, junior Liz Janangelo, had the most consistent round for Duke. After a bogey on the first, Janangelo notched 17 consecutive pars, but Brooks said the junior thought she could have scored better.
“She was a little frustrated today,” Brooks said. “She was playing well and the putts weren’t going in. She knew how puttable these greens were, and when you are not making them, it is a little frustrating.”
Duke’s other three golfers, Anna Grzebien, Niloufar Aazam-Zangeneh and Jennifer Pandolfi, shot two, three and four over par, respectively. Monday’s round was the first for freshman Pandolfi, who struggled with three bogies at the start but did not let her early woes persist throughout the round. By the sixth hole she had already erased two bogies.
“That is a perfectly good first round in your college career,” Brooks said. “You don’t expect more than that on your first round out.”
With 36 holes remaining, one-under-par Duke, is two ahead of Washington. Georgia, New Mexico and Oklahoma State are all within six strokes of the lead.
The tournament is one of the most important of the year for the Blue Devils, as the team will return to the same Oregon course to compete for the National Championship against many of the same teams in May.
The conditions are expected to improve Tuesday and Wednesday and Brooks said his team will need to lower its score if it hopes to maintain the lead.
“The other girls on the team are capable of low scores,” Lang said. “I think tomorrow we can get a few lower scores and gain some ground on the field.”