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Before LPGA, Janangelo living it up

Last week Liz Janangelo teed off in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship against some of the best golfers in the world, including Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie. Tuesday, she was back in the Gothic Wonderland as the ultimate student athlete--balancing her courses as a sophomore history major with her place at the top of the Duke women's golf team and the national collegiate rankings.

"It's really difficult," Janangelo said. "I think people don't realize the amount of time that we miss [for a tournament]. We leave on Wednesday and get back Sunday. I try to take my work on the road with me. I have a lot of respect for athletes who have incredible GPA's."

At the Nabisco Champion-ship, Janangelo finished in a 40th place tie in a field filled with the some of the best professional golfers in the world. In the amateur field, Janangelo was only behind Wie and Jane Park.

"It was an honor to receive the exemption to play," Janangelo said.

While she golfed in the first of the LPGA's four major championships alongside teammate Virada Nirapath-pongporn, the rest of the Duke squad competed in the Liz Murphy Collegiate. While Duke did suffer its first lost of the season, it managed a remarkable third-place finish without its two best golfers.

Janangelo may lead the team and the nation, but her fellow Blue Devils are not far behind on the national rankings. Freshman Brittany Lang is ranked fourth, Nirapathpong-porn sixth, freshman Anna Grzebien ninth and Leigh Anne Hardin 16th.

"Everyday when you have practice and you tee the ball, you're playing with the best players in the country," Janangelo said.

The team is not only composed of the best players, but also Janangelo's best friends. Janangelo, who plans to go pro after college, cites the team camaraderie as reason enough to play as a collegian before starting a career on the LPGA Tour.

"The relationships you build through college tour play are important because golf is a lonely sport," Janangelo said. "You want to build friendships that will stick with you."

Before playing at Duke, Janangelo's only team experience came from her two-year stint as the top player on the boys' golf team at Conard High School in Connecticut during her freshman and sophomore year. For the second half of high school, Janangelo practiced on her own while playing in golf tournaments.

Playing with the boys was very different from her experience thus far as a Blue Devil. From six-hour bus rides to getting lost on the way to the Hooters' Championship in Myrtle Beach this past November, Janangelo said that the team atmosphere is the aspect of collegiate golf she loves the most.

"We sing songs in the van," Janangelo said.

"Guys don't sing," she added, laughing.

For now, the West Hartford, Conn., native, whose career in golf began at the age of three because she "liked driving in the golf cart," holds the No. 1 collegiate ranking in the nation, and is set to lead Duke as it makes a run at its third national championship.

"Because we didn't win last year, I think we're hungrier," Janangelo said. "We're working even harder."

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