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Blue Devils struggle in Tennessee

Sophomore Lindy Duncan played like Duke’s top this weekend, firing a 69 on Sunday and finishing the tournament tied for ninth.
Sophomore Lindy Duncan played like Duke’s top this weekend, firing a 69 on Sunday and finishing the tournament tied for ninth.

The Blue Devils have a history of success at the Mason Rudolph Championship, taking the title three times this decade. This weekend, however, was a slightly different story.

After shooting a five-under-par 283 on day one of the tournament, the wheels fell off for No. 8 Duke on its last 36 holes. Against top competition like Purdue, Southern California and the tournament’s winner, LSU, the Blue Devils shot a plus-eight 872, good for a T-10 finish.

“I’m disappointed—we were 29 shots back from the win,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “Obviously, we’re going to look things right in the eye, see it for what it is and say we need to get better.”

LSU set a tournament record with a 21-under-par 843. The Tigers’ low score, coupled with the Vanderbilt Legends Club’s national renown, had Brooks convinced that the conditions his young team saw were similar to what they would see in postseason play.

“You can’t know the level of play with a course or in the postseason until you play in it,” Brooks said. “To see that 21 under happened on this golf course—they got a really clear look at the way to win on this golf course.”

Brooks singled out the play of his senior, Kim Donovan, and his No. 1 golfer this year, Lindy Duncan. Donovan shot a three-under 69 Friday to put her near the top of the leaderboard, before stumbling a bit on days two and three with dual 73s. Duncan fired a 69 on the first day of competition, followed it up with a 73 on day two, then threw out another 69 on the final day. The reigning ACC Player of the Year birdied finished in the top ten with the lowest three-day total of her collegiate career.

“I’m happy with Lindy’s performance, and Kim Donovan is really showing some good things out there,” Brooks said. “We’ve got a ways to go with the others. Obviously, they’re working hard, but we’ve got to learn to score even if we’re not hitting the ball well.”

The others that he referred to—freshmen Aleja Cangrejo and Laetitia Beck, and sophomore Courtney Ellenbogen—all shot over par in the tournament. Cangrejo finished tied for 62nd after a final-round 73; Beck opened play Friday with a 69 but shot two 77s Saturday and Sunday to finish T-54; and Ellenbogen finished with a plus-18 final score. The early date of the high scores, though, means Brooks isn’t too worried yet.

“It’s early in the season,” Brooks said. “We have a lot to look forward to. It’s a very talented group... that’s dedicated to the mission of this program.”

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