Blumenherst wins 1st tournament of season

It took longer than expected for sophomore Amanda Blumenherst to return to her winning ways. But after a winless fall season, the reigning National Player of the Year found herself atop the leaderboard once again by winning the Arizona Wildcat Invitational Tuesday.

"It feels great," Blumenherst said. "I had such a great year last year that anything short of winning everything would be let down."

The defending national champion Blue Devils, however, did not see equal success in their first spring tournament, as they fell to Arizona State by eight strokes and finished in second place at the Arizona National Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.

After winning its first three tournaments and a season-total six events en route to its third straight national title last year, Duke has won just two of six tournaments this season and has fallen to fourth in the national rankings.

Head coach Dan Brooks, however, remains unphased by his young team's early performance.

"The effort is there," Brooks said. "There are some little things that are going on that just won't happen as we spend more and more time playing golf."

Duke improved on its score each day on its way to posting a 24-over-par 876-even tying for the best team round Tuesday.

"[Tuesday] was actually a really good day," Brooks said. "We just needed some time in the warm sun. We've been playing in the cold back at home."

Playing a full 36 holes Monday, the Blue Devils struggled with their putting and fell behind by 11 strokes after two rounds.

A solid final round pulled Duke to within eight strokes, but that was as close as the team would get to No. 2 Arizona State.

Duke was paced both days by a resurgent Blumenherst, who led the tournament from wire to wire. The fifth-ranked golfer finished with a three-under-par 210 to win by a full four strokes.

"This semester I've tried to have a different attitude," Blumenherst said. "I'm just trying to take it one tournament, one hole, one shot at a time."

Blumenherst was followed by the country's No. 4 golfer, Duke's Jennie Lee, who shot six-over-par and finished tied for 11th.

Senior Anna Grzebien and junior Jennifer Pandolfi finished in a tie for 23rd at 12-over-par and freshman Alison Whitaker ended up tied for 32nd to round out the Blue Devils' scoring.

Though Duke may be disappointed that it did not win the tournament, it did beat No. 3 Pepperdine by an astounding 21 strokes.

"There were some good things that happened," Brooks said. "The only team that beat us is Arizona State, and they're not dealing with the same weather that we are."

The Blue Devils tee off again March 5 at the UCF Challenge in Orlando, Fla.


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