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Duke finishes 3rd in Calif.

Playing without their top golfer, who happens to be the best in the nation, the Blue Devils missed out on a comeback on the West Coast Wednesday and failed to win their first tournament of the year.

The women’s golf team finished third, four shots off the pace, but sophomore Brittany Lang collected her first individual title of the season at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif.

With reigning national Player of the Year Liz Janangelo off the course because of pneumonia, Duke could not make up a one-stroke deficit entering the third round. As a result of Janangelo’s absence, the Blue Devils sent just four players to California and were unable to drop their lowest score each round.

Despite a two-over-par round Wednesday, Lang won the tournament by four shots, beating UCLA’s Charlotte Mayorkas.

“She always works real hard, and she played really well this week,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks said of Lang. “For some reason this course played hard, and for Brittany to play well this week and win shows what kind of golfer she is.”

Lang led after each of the three rounds but only shot under par on the first day of the tournament. The sophomore scattered six birdies over the final two rounds, but a combination of three double bogeys and three bogeys dropped her back to even par by the end of the 54-hole event.

“I putted pretty well this week, but my wedges were not all there,” Lang said. “I played pretty well on the front nine but struggled some on the back. But on the whole I played pretty solid.”

Duke’s competitors at the top of the leaderboard throughout the tournament were the same teams the Blue Devils battled for the National Championship a year ago. UCLA, the 2004 NCAA champion, finished two strokes ahead of Duke. Pepperdine won the challenge at 896 on the 5,912-yard course.

During the first two days of play, Pepperdine and UCLA traded the lead, and Duke was in second at the conclusion of each of the first two rounds. But the Blue Devils shot 23 over par Wednesday to slip into third.

Niloufar Aazam-Zanganeh was the second best finisher for the Blue Devils. The senior, who tied for 12th, shot eight over par during the final round to drop out of the top 10.

Sophomore Anna Grzebien carded three bogies to begin the final round, but after settling down to par for the next 14 holes the sophomore double-bogeyed her final hole to finish in 21st place.

Freshman Jennifer Pandolfi struggled throughout the tournament, shooting 22 over par. Pandolfi had two birdies over her first six holes but was seven over par on the final 11 holes, including a double bogey on the seventh that began her slide.

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