Blumenherst, Duke take 1st

The winner of this week's UCF Challenge at the Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Fla. received an exemption to the LPGA's Sybase Classic.

That might have been motivation for Amanda Blumenherst-if she had even remembered the perk associated with winning.

Blumenherst fired a career-best 11-under-par 205 to win the tournament, beating her nearest competitor by 12 strokes. The sophomore's performance helped propel the Blue Devils to their first team title of the spring season, as they throttled a strong field. Third-ranked Duke ended up 26 shots in front of the second-place finisher, No. 2 Georgia.

The exemption to the LPGA event, however, slipped Blumenherst's mind during her three rounds Monday and Tuesday.

"I was kind of surprised," Blumenherst said. "I can't believe I had forgotten about it.... It's a great honor to be given an exemption, but right now college golf comes first."

Duke head coach Dan Brooks and Blumenherst-the reigning National Player of the Year-both acknowledged, however, that she might not play in the tournament, given its timing. The Sybase Classic, schedule for May 14-20, is sandwiched between the NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Championships.

"I trust her judgment completely as I trust the judgment of most of my players," Brooks said. "I know she'll make a good choice based on whether it's good preparation for nationals for her. She really is a team player, so she'll do it for the good of the team."

Blumenherst, the current No. 1 golfer in the country, was not the only contributing factor to Duke's collective triumph-she had plenty of help from her teammates.

Sophomore Jennie Lee, the nation's third-ranked golfer, finished in fourth place with a 3-over-par 219. In addition, freshman Alison Whitaker placed fifth at 4-over par, and junior Jennifer Pandolfi shot 5-over, good for seventh place.

Brooks, however, was especially impressed with the third-round effort of Anna Grzebien. The senior shot a 2-under-par 70-the second-lowest score of the day-after struggling through two rounds of 78 and 79 Monday.

"I was particularly proud of Anna to come in with that round after a couple of rounds that weren't quite as solid," Brooks said. "She showed a lot of determination to come in with a score like that."

The team championship is Duke's first of the spring campaign, but Brooks was not necessarily surprised by the dominant performance-especially after the Blue Devils placed second in the Wildcat Invitational in Arizona last week despite their battle with tough greens.

"We didn't play exceptionally better golf tee-to-green, but the ball just started dropping, and that gives you momentum," Brooks said.

The Blue Devils return to action over spring break when they travel to Baton Rouge, La. for the LSU Classic Invitational.


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