Duke captures 11th straight ACC Crown

Defending national champion Duke proved this weekend that it is possible to repeat as champions not twice, but 10 times. The No. 1 Blue Devils defeated Virginia by 19 strokes at the ACC Championships at Pinehurst No. 8 to capture their 11th consecutive conference tournament.

In what has become a pattern, when freshman Amanda Blumenherst led the Blue Devils to victory, winning the tournament by seven strokes to become Duke's 12th ACC Individual Champion. She was the only player to finish in the red with a three-day total of 4-under-par 212.

"I hit the ball very well and putted very well the first two days," Blumenherst said. "To get this win is so amazing."

Bluemenherst's tournament-high 13 birdies led her to her third first-place finish of the year. She is currently the top-ranked golfer in the NCAA and her 22 rounds of even par or better is a Duke school record for a single season.

"I hate to compare," head coach Dan Brooks said. "But I think she's an extremely talented player."

After skipping Duke's last tournament to compete in the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship, Anna Grzebien returned to the Blue Devils but struggled over the weekend. The junior finished in a tie for 15th place, the lowest of all the Blue Devils, and her opening-round 80 was her second-worst performance of the season.

"If you look at her numbers, those certainly aren't numbers she can shoot, but I feel great about her game," Brooks said. "Anna Grzebien can win this tournament hands down."

Grzebien looked poised to make a move Sunday after making the turn at 1-under par. But the junior went on to bogey holes 10 and 11 and quadruple bogey number 14 en route to a 4-over-par 76.

Sophomore Jennifer Pandolfi continued the best stretch of her career with her second top-10 finish in as many tournaments. Her final tally of 10-over par was good enough for a three-way tie for eighth place. Pandolfi was accompanied by teammate Liz Janangelo, who moved into eighth after posting a final-day 73.

After carding a 2-over-par 74 on the first day, freshman Jennie Lee was in fourth place, but an 81 Saturday dropped her all the way to 13th place.

"They are all players who are capable of finishing one-two-three-four-five, that's how good we are," Brooks said. "The fact that we didn't finish that high shows we've got a little work to do to play at the level we're capable of."

The win puts the defending-champion Blue Devils back on track after failing to play up to the high standards they have set for themselves in recent years. At one point this year during a stretch from November to March, Duke finished out of first place in three consecutive tournaments-the first time the team has done so since its 1997-1998 campaign. But the Blue Devils have since recovered with two wins this spring.

"We've got people who are happy on the team and those who think they can play better," Brooks said. "It really remains an individual sport. But this team is very excited about winning."


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