Grzebien finishes career in style

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Anna Grzebien came into the 2007 NCAA Championship having already won two team national titles and an individual NCAA crown.

But Duke's only senior was far from satisfied, and she bounced back from a dreadful first day to lead the Blue Devils to a comfortable victory for their fifth national championship.

Coming off a final round at the NCAA Regionals in which she shot 2-under-par, Grzebien struggled mightily on the tough LPGA International Legends Course in Round One. After a triple bogey on the sixth hole, Grzebien bogeyed the par-3 12th, then proceeded to bogey each of her last four holes to post an 8-over 80. The round was the senior's worst in four NCAA Championships-she had not even shot above a 75 in the NCAAs since she was a freshman.

"I was a little less settled the first day here," Grzebien said. "I just put a little extra pressure on myself, and there was a lot going through my head, that this was my last college tournament. I didn't really get on a good start, and it was tough to get into my groove."

The Blue Devils' depth kept the round from hurting the team. In college golf, teams are allowed to take the four best scores from their five competitors. Grzebien's round was dropped, and Duke only trailed by five strokes after the first day. After the round, Duke head coach Dan Brooks knew he didn't have to say anything special to get the intense Grzebien going.

"You don't want to give Anna a reason to get burning inside, and that's what that 80 did," head coach Dan Brooks said. "She shot the 80, and fortunately the way they set college golf up, we get to throw it out. And who knows, that 80 might have been a positive, in that the burn that came from that propelled her to do the rest of it.

"She's the kind of person who's going to get fueled by something like that," Brooks said. "She's going to be fueled by a bad round, and there's no way she's going to let that define this tournament. No way."

Grzebien came out on Day Two determined to avoid finishing her career with disappointment. After the Blue Devils took the lead early in the second round, Grzebien went on a tear, notching four birdies over six holes after the turn. She posted Duke's best round of the day, and the Blue Devils remarkably went from fifth place to having a seven-shot lead over the field.

In all, Grzebien shot 4-under-par over the final three days, which trailed only individual champion Stacy Lewis of Arkansas during that stretch. The senior flew up the leaderboard, rocketing from 95th after Round One to her finish in sixth place. She was also one of only nine competitors in the 125-player field to shoot under par on the rainy and blustery final day as she helped to clinch the Blue Devils' third straight national title with a 2-under 70.

"We've had our ups and downs throughout the year, and to come together and peak at the right time, it was just fantastic-and that's what team chemistry can do," Grzebien said.

Coming out of high school, Grzebien surprised many people in the golf community by not following her two older sisters to play at Northwestern. After a Duke career that allowed her to hold up four of the recognizable wood-and-gold trophies and experiences she said are far beyond what she could have expected, it is safe to say Grzebien made the right decision.

One thing is for sure-the Blue Devils are happy they got her.

"I love the players I get to be associated with-watching people like Anna grow from being just a touch on the immature side as she came in to one of the best leaders we've ever had," Brooks said. "It's always hard to see somebody like Anna leave. I feel like we've become really close. That's why I do it. It's not so much about the three-peat... but it's nice."


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