Duke women's golf wins Tar Heel Invitational
Not this time.
No. 7 Duke dominated the 54-hole Tar Heel Invitational at par-72 Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C., seizing a 12 stroke lead after 36 holes and eventually winning by 11 strokes at seven-under-par. Three Blue Devils finished in the top six individually to lead the team to its first win of the season. No. 18 Vanderbilt finished second and No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 3 Arkansas rounded out the top four finishers. The tournament featured 18 teams, 10 of which are ranked in the top 25 in Golfweek's latest rankings.
"I'm really proud of them," head coach Dan Brooks said. "We played a long golf course. That's the longest that course has ever played as long as they've been hosting that tournament. It was wet and the wind was blowing.... The wind blew in a direction that really challenged you on some key holes.... I was just very impressed by how smart the team played."
Duke took a one stroke lead into the final round of the Dale McNamara Fall Preview in the team's first tournament of the season but was unable to hold the lead, finishing eight strokes behind tournament winner Southern California in a tie for fourth place. The Blue Devils played a much more consistent final round in their third tournament, losing only one stroke off the lead and preserving the 11-stroke win.
"We were in good position [after two rounds]," Brooks said. "I thought they did pretty well at previous tournaments too at staying patient for the final day.... This time it just worked out. This time we wound up with the win."
Senior Laetitia Beck led Duke in the first round with a three-under-par 69 that left her tied for second. She played her final 36 holes in one-under-par to finish the tournament at four-under-par in a tie for third and collect her second top-10 finish in three events this season. She finished five strokes behind individual champion Ashlan Ramsey of Clemson.
"Whenever your seniors are doing well, it has a positive effect on everybody else," Brooks said. "She's become such a solid player and somebody we count on.... She's got the tempo of a champion now. She's just becoming a very mature player. She thinks really well and has a lot of poise and great rhythm.... She's starting to look really professional out there."
Sophomore Celine Boutier had one of the best rounds of the entire tournament in the second round, firing a four-under-par 68 to lead Duke to a round of six-under-par 282 and bolstering its lead. Boutier finished tied with Beck in a tie for third overall at four-under-par for the tournament.
"Celine, playing a long golf course, hit some really, really great shots coming in on some long holes," Brooks said. "She doesn't hit it a mile, but she just managed her game really well. I was very impressed."
Freshman Yu Liu made it two top-ten finishes in two starts this season by finishing in sixth place at three-under-par after three consecutive rounds of one-under-par 71.
Liu's fellow freshman Sandy Choi was the fourth Blue Devil that contributed to Duke's team score and finished tied for 27th at four-over-par after rounds of 73, 72 and 75. On the heels of their double-digit victory, the Blue Devils will return to action in two weeks with a tournament in Wilmington
"It always helps to see a golf course," Brooks said. "We've been over there a lot and they'd seen it.... That's definitely one in your corner when you've seen a golf course."