Freshman blooms in fall season

When Amanda Blumenherst was just 12 years old, an age when most people were still struggling with their multiplication tables, she teed off in her first national golf tournament. Competing against more experienced golfers, Blumenherst did the unexpected. She won.

At the Mason Rudolph Classic this fall, the freshman proved that history repeats itself and won her first collegiate tournament against many of the nation's top players.

"I just went out there and I played the best I could," Blumenherst said. "I took it one shot, one hole at a time, and I didn't think about how the other girls were playing.

Blumenherst set a record for best 54-hole total by a Duke freshman and became the first golfer to win her first collegiate tournament since former Blue Devil Candy Hannemann accomplished the feat in 1998.

Since her early victory, Blumenherst has been nothing short of spectacular. She posted nine consecutive rounds of even par or better to start her rookie campaign, and she has placed in the top four in each of her four tournament appearances.

With her impressive early resume, Blumenherst has earned many accolades, including Golfweek Player of the Week Sept. 27, and she was vaulted into the No. 1 ranking individually Oct. 11. Currently ranked second, Blumenherst has helped lead the Blue Devils to the top spot in the Golfweek Poll.

"I'm hitting the best I ever have," Blumenherst said. "It was definitely my goal to do my best. You know, everybody wants to win, but I've exceeded my expectations."

As an incoming freshman, Blumenherst joined a Blue Devil team that already boasted 2004 National Golf Coaches Association's Player of the Year Liz Janangelo and 2005 NCAA Individual Champion Anna Grzebien. Remarkably, Blumenherst has registered a better scoring average than the two seasoned veterans and also has more top-five performances this season, passing her teammates in Golfweek's individual rankings.

"I really don't even think about the rankings," she said. "It's really exciting to be part of a team."

The attention is nothing new, Blumenherst said, after a stellar high school career in which she captured two individual state crowns. Hailing from Scottsdale, Ariz., she led Xavier Preparatory to the 5A state title four times while claiming her pair of individual championships.

She also came to Duke as the third-ranked junior player in the country, having won 14 national tournaments and twice representing the U.S. on the Junior Solheim Cup team.

Duke head coach Dan Brooks, the winningest coach in Division I women's golf history, said that the freshman's experience on the junior circuit prepared her well for Duke and golf at the collegiate level, noting he was not surprised by her immediate success.

"Her greatest assets are her positive attitude, her desire and her work ethic," Brooks said.


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