Whitaker’s 1-under leads Duke at Wildcat

Senior Alison Whitaker was one of only three players to shoot under par at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz.
Senior Alison Whitaker was one of only three players to shoot under par at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz.

The rough weather and No. 1 Arizona State’s dominant team performance will get most of the attention after the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., but Duke senior Alison Whitaker came close to stealing the show.

Whitaker, who shot a 2-under 67 in the tournament’s first round Monday, followed that up with a 1-over 72 Tuesday to finish in a tie for second place on the individual table. If not for a wonderful 18 holes from Oklahoma State’s Caroline Hedwall, who shot a 5-under 66 on the second day of competition, Whitaker would have been in contention for the individual crown.

Hedwall won the Invitational with a score of 6-under par, including a 66 Tuesday, and Whitaker finished at 1-under, the same as the Sun Devils’ best player, Juliana Murcia. Hedwall, Murcia and Whitaker were the only players in the field to finish under par.

Whitaker looked to have a chance to make Hedwall sweat after two birdies early in the round put her at 4-under for the tournament. Yet the senior settled for pars on most of the back stretch and finished the round with three birdies and four bogeys—not good enough to make a late push for first, but still one of the better rounds seen all week.

Aside from Whitaker, the No. 5 Blue Devils did not fare so well in the desert. Duke finished fifth in the event with a combined score of 31-over, 23 strokes behind champion Arizona State.

“On the whole, the team would have been happier with a better finish, especially considering we battled it out [Monday],” Whitaker said. “But personally, I think I just got some results from some hard work that I’ve been doing with my golf game. It paid off a little bit today.”

Freshman Lindy Duncan was the second-best Blue Devil on the week, finishing at 9-over after shooting a 74 Monday. Courtney Ellenbogen and Kim Donovan followed Duncan closely with scores of 11- and 12-over, respectively.

Freshman Stacey Kim, Duke’s fifth and final participant, closed the tournament at 18-over par.

The Invitational was marred by inclement weather which shortened the event by a full round. Teams were originally scheduled to play 36 holes Monday but only managed to complete 18, in essence turning the tournament into a two-round competition. Brooks and Whitaker, though, both said they wished the team had been able to play the complete third round.

Still, Whitaker did her best to capitalize on her quality play and managed to earn the fifth top-5 finish of her career.

“When somebody goes low and finishes near the top in a good field in bad conditions, it’s all about attitude, being tough and staying tough,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “That’s what Ali is all about. This is kind of a deal where she would shine.”


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