Champs open year with win

Defending national champion Duke picked up right where it left off, winning the Mason Rudolph Championship Sunday for the third consecutive year.

The No. 1 Blue Devils finished with a three-day total of one-under par, 863, which beat Georgia by three strokes. Duke was the only squad in the 15-team tournament, which was held at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., to finish under par.

"I think we're off to a good start," head coach Dan Brooks said. "We had contributions from everybody."

A strong first two days of play helped mask an otherwise unimpressive performance in the final round--a day in which all but one Blue Devil dropped down the leaderboard. Sunday's total of 296 was a full 12 strokes worse than Saturday's round.

Behind the play of sophomores Jennie Lee and Amanda Blumenherst, Duke surged ahead Saturday to lead by seven strokes heading into the disappointing final round.

"We had very, very good rounds the first two days," Lee said. "The last day we didn't play as well, but we pulled out the win and that's what you want."

In individual competition, 27th-ranked Lee continued her streak of impressive play from last season and finished tied for fourth--the best finish of the Blue Devils.

Lee, who shot a career-best five-under-par 67 on Saturday, was tied for first after 36 holes, and seemed poised to hold that position well into her final round. But the sophomore faltered, shooting four-over on her final five holes, which left her at two-under par for the tournament.

Reigning National Player of the Year Blumenherst, who won the Mason Rudolph Championship one year ago in her first collegiate tournament, finished tied for eighth place, two-over par.

Friday's round saw another first for Blumenherst-the first time in her career her score was not counted towards Duke's total. Out of five players, four scores count each day of competition and she was the only Blue Devil over par on the day.

Blumenherst recovered, though, firing a three-under-par 69 on Saturday to help the team land in first place.

Senior Anna Grzebien, ranked 14th nationally, finished tied for 11th after rounds of 71, 74 and 72. Junior Jennifer Pandolfi carded a three-over-par 219 over three days to end in a tie for 16th place, and freshman Alison Whitaker finished tied for 33rd.

"Overall, I'm very happy," Brooks said. "What you want is golf where everyone looks like they could win it individually. We're not there yet, but we're close."


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