Blue Devils battle top teams and the elements in Arizona

Alison Whitaker led the Blue Devils Monday with a 2-under 69 at the Wildcat Invitational.
Alison Whitaker led the Blue Devils Monday with a 2-under 69 at the Wildcat Invitational.

The Blue Devils probably thought they’d be escaping the rain that drenched campus yesterday with a trip to usually beautiful Arizona, but Duke had to fight through some tough conditions Monday at the Wildcat Invitational. Pitted against some of the best teams in the country—the tournament boasts eight of the nation’s top 20—the No. 6 Blue Devils fired a 12-over 296 to finish the first round in fifth place, and are just six strokes back of leader Arizona State.

As if the challenges posed by an unforgiving Arizona National Golf Club weren’t enough—the course is designed by renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr.—Duke was forced to play through a steady drizzle throughout, and faced winds of up to 15 miles per hour.

“As soon as you get past the fairway and the rough, the terrain is basically unplayable,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “When the wind blows, it just sends you out into that junk.”

The conditions didn’t slow senior Alison Whitaker, who fired a 2-under 69 to finish in second place, one shot off the pace set by Taylore Karle of Pepperdine.

Whitaker birdied two of her first four holes and finished the day with just two bogeys and 12 pars to lead the Blue Devils.

“It’s all about attitude when you play in bad conditions,” Brooks said. “And she’s proven that she can get tough, mentally.”

From top to bottom, Duke’s lineup was very solid individually, with no Blue Devil finishing worse than 38th in the 93-player field.

Freshman Stacey Kim got off to a tough start by triple-bogeying a dogleg left par-4, but rallied to birdie three of her last five holes—two of those birdies came on par-5s—to finish with a 6-over 77.

The Blue Devils were originally scheduled to play all 36 holes of the Invitational Monday, but the weather forced officials to move the second round to Tuesday.

“This is just a really tough team, and I’m disappointed we didn’t get to play the second 18,” Brooks said. “I told each of the players I thought we’d come out on top at the end of the day if we played until dark.”


Share and discuss “Blue Devils battle top teams and the elements in Arizona” on social media.