Duke looks to challenge in the fall as it swings for history

When the Blue Devils won the NCAA championship last spring, they became the first team since Arizona State to win three consecutive national titles.

Now Duke is chasing another one of the Sun Devils' records: six NCAA trophies.

With five titles in the past nine years, Duke has cemented its position as one of the premier programs in the country, and with juniors Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee pacing the team, the Blue Devils are well-positioned to sustain their high level of success.

The two teammates faced off against each other August 10 in the quarterfinals of U.S. Amateur match play-one of the most prestigious events in the sport.

"It was a great match between Jenny and Amanda," head coach Dan Brooks said. "They both played great golf. It was a sad thing knowing that one of them would be out at the end of that round. You would have loved to see the two of them left at the end of the tournament."

Blumenherst went on to the finals, where she lost on the last hole to Maria Jose Uribe two days later. But the experience proved how much the junior has grown. Despite being the reigning National Player of the Year, Blumenherst had struggled in the past with match play.

"It takes a while to learn how to play match play," Brooks said. "It's a process of learning to stay focused on the golf course and your own thing. You can't be just totally focused on your game. You have to be aware of what your opponent is doing. It's easy to get too caught up in what's going on."

With Blumenherst, Lee and sophomore Rebecca Kim all advancing to match play in the U.S. Amateur, Duke should be poised to make a real run in the 16-team Women's Collegiate Match Play Nov. 4 to 6 at the Independence Course in Kissimmee, Fla.

And a tough fall schedule, including the Match Play and filled with weekends facing the nation's toughest competition, should help prepare them for their quest for a fourth title in the spring.

"You can't cram for golf like you cram for an interview," Brooks said. "With golf, it's different. All along the way it's about developing habits-habits of confidence, habits of focusing on your weaknesses and correcting them, habits of disciplining yourself to do the tasks you need to make yourself better."

For a team that has already proven itself to be one of the nation's best, getting better could mean trouble for any team that comes up against them-and for Arizona State's place in the record book.


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