Janangelo aims to cap career in style

Liz Janangelo has been raking in awards and accomplishing goals her entire golf career, but none of her previous accolades could have prepared her for a matchup with Michael Jordan.

Since starting to swing a club at the age of three, Janangelo, now a senior, has become a dominant force in the world of women's junior, amateur and collegiate golf.

Last week, however, Janangelo was faced with an unexpected challenge. Playing a practice round at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club, Janangelo and two teammates discovered the basketball superstar was in a twosome behind them.

Janangelo, the Blue Devils' captain, offered to let Jordan pass by the team, but after some lighthearted conversation she agreed to a challenge from the NBA legend.

"He was playing behind us, and we were going to let him play through since we weren't moving too fast," she said. "We ended up in a best-ball match-play round with Jordan and his partner. It was unreal. We had to keep pinching each other to make sure we weren't dreaming."

Just like she has so many times in her golf career, Janangelo, along with teammates Amanda Blumenherst and Anna Grzebien, won. The trio knocked off Jordan, 4-up.

It was not just a win that Janangelo came away with, however. Although beating one of America's most revered athletes was a great feeling for the senior and her teammates, Janangelo said that Jordan's advice and competitive drive will stick with her as she moves on to the professional level after this season.

"He's the greatest basketball player that's ever lived, and while we're joking and trash talking with him a bit, we really learned so much from him," Janangelo said. "He told us that it doesn't matter whether you're on the hardwood or the golf course, if you think well mentally, you will be successful."

Throughout her career, Janangelo has been plenty successful. The West Hartford, Conn. native, finished her prep career at Conard High School with eight titles on the junior circuit. She also received the 2001 Golfweek Player of the Year Award.

Janangelo arrived at Duke the fall after the team had won its second NCAA Championship in 2001, and she made her presence known immediately. In just her third collegiate event, the then-freshman took the individual crown at the Tar Heel Invitational. She went on to win one more event that season before exploding in her sophomore year and capturing four titles.

Janangelo finished her sophomore season with a school-record 71.1 scoring average, and she was named the 2004 National Golf Coaches Association Player of the Year.

In her junior campaign, she did not have the personal success she enjoyed her first two years as a Blue Devil, but Janangelo still tallied nine top-10 finishes and was a major reason Duke took home its third NCAA Championship.

"Sophomore year was great, so many individual goals got accomplished, and I showed myself a lot," Janangelo said. "Then to have a junior year where my team was so unstoppable was great."

This season, Janangelo notched her seventh individual title of her NCAA career at the Stanford Intercollegiate, and with her team winning four tournaments, the senior has now been a part of 29 victories at Duke.

With her career coming to a close, Janangelo said she wants to guide the top-ranked Blue Devils to one more NCAA Championship before she graduates to leave Duke on top.

"I love Duke, so many people come out to our tournaments, friends and family, I really appreciate all the support my team has received," Janangelo said, "We've won so many tournaments in my four years at Duke and to end with another championship ring would mean so much to me."

Regardless of whether she gets one more ring before heading off and achieving her next goal of getting her LPGA Tour Card, head coach Dan Brooks said Janangelo has been an asset to the team.

"She's meant a lot to this program," Brooks said. "She's played some great golf and she adds a lot of fire to the team and we're going to miss her dearly."


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