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Duke fails to take ACC tourney

Lindy Duncan shot a 70 on the final day to move up to fourth place in the individual standings.
Lindy Duncan shot a 70 on the final day to move up to fourth place in the individual standings.

Only 12 shots down heading into the pivotal second round of the ACC Championship—on a day when North Carolina was pummeled by severe storms and wind—the Blue Devils knew they faced an uphill battle.

Unable to cope with the intermittent rain and gusting winds during the second round, No. 5 Duke struggled to navigate Greensboro N.C.’s Sedgefield Country Club and the Saturday swoon placed the Blue Devils 24 strokes behind leader North Carolina.

Duke played better Sunday, but still limped down the second nine and held onto second place with a final score of 47-over par, 24 strokes behind the Tar Heels, who won their first ACC Championship since 1992 with a three day total of 875.

“My hat is off to [North] Carolina. They played great this entire tournament,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “They’re a young team and I think they were solid beyond their years.”

Wake Forest junior Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods, won the individual title with a cumulative score of five-under par, 11 strokes ahead of junior Lindy Duncan, who finished fourth for the second consecutive year.

The Blue Devils held on to an early lead during the first round, before a collective midround collapse allowed the Tar Heels to move to the top of the leaderboard—a position they would hold for the rest of the tournament. Making the turn on day one, Duke dropped 19 strokes over holes No. 9, 10 and 11, recording two triple bogeys on the par-4 9th, the fourth toughest hole in the first round. North Carolina, meanwhile, played the same stretch at just 5-over par.

The Blue Devils made up some ground on the remaining par fives on the back nine, picking up eight birdies over the two holes, but the Tar Heels would close the day up 12.

“Especially on a really good golf course, it can go that way,” Brooks said. “You can have a string of holes like we did on Friday where we went way down, and then you have a string of holes where you come back.”

The field faced inclement weather throughout the round on Saturday, and even had to endure a three hour delay as lightning and rain in the area forced players back to the clubhouse. Play resumed at 4 p.m., but the Tar Heels were the only team able to keep scores low around a soggy Sedgefield.

Brooks expected his team to make up ground in the weather, but the Blue Devils simply couldn’t muster enough birdies to close the gap, finishing the day with an 18-over par round of 302.

With a near insurmountable deficit to overcome, Duke struggled on the final day but managed to stay above Virginia for second place. Sophomore Lindy Duncan began the day brightly with a front-nine 31, but sputtered after the turn, bogeying four of the final seven holes.

For the rest of the Blue Devils, the opening nine holes were a grind. Sophomore Stacey Kim, who began the day tied for sixth, bogeyed the first four holes of the round and suffered a double-bogey on the par-3 7th en route to a final day 80. Kim finished in a tie for 13th along with teammate Kim Donovan. Freshman Laetitia Beck was a stroke behind at 16-over, while Aleja Cangrejo finished in a tie for 19th at 18-over.

Despite failing to capture the ACC Championship for the third straight year, Brooks is confident that his team can still top the leaderboard at some point this year.

“It’s just [one] tournament. We didn’t play well, but we’re going to continue to work hard,” Brooks said. “Carolina had a great tournament and we didn’t. The next time, we’re going to have a great tournament. That’s just the way it goes.”

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