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Duke looks to return to top

Lindy Duncan, who had her worst performance of the year Duke’s last time out, will look to play well again in the ACC Championships.
Lindy Duncan, who had her worst performance of the year Duke’s last time out, will look to play well again in the ACC Championships.

Riding an uncharacteristically long 12-tournament winless streak, No. 5 Duke has yet to take home a trophy this season despite being in contention nearly every tournament. The young Blue Devils look to finally get over the hump at storied Sedgefield Country Club as the ACC Championships tee off this morning in Greensboro, N.C.

Duke has owned Sedgefield and the ACC Championships in the past, winning 13 of the previous 15 titles, including 13 in a row from 1996 to 2008. The rest of the ACC has caught up to the Blue Devils in recent years however, with Wake Forest capturing the crown in 2009 and 2010.

Currently, the national rankings feature four ACC teams in the top 25, with Virginia at No. 8, Wake Forest at No. 16 and North Carolina at No. 22. Given the competitiveness of the conference, reigning ACC Player of the Year Lindy Duncan expects to see a tightly packed leaderboard in Greensboro throughout the weekend.

“I think... we’ve all established ourselves near the top at a lot of the tournaments [this year], so I think it could be a pretty tight race,” Duncan said.

The Blue Devils fortunes will likely be tied to the success of Duncan, who has buoyed Duke the entire year. The sophomore is coming her worst performance of the year, though. At the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic two weeks ago, Duncan failed to defend her championship, and blew up on the final day to finish tied for 78th.

Duncan returns to a course where her shotmaking ability should set her apart from the pack, as the par-71, 6,185-yard Sedgefield layout both demands and rewards accurate drives and approaches to the green. A Donald Ross design, Sedgefield is famous for its enormous dome-shaped greens which commonly feature multiple tiers, requiring players to be accurate with their irons into the green.

“It’s a thinking course. Donald Ross [designs] are always courses where if you fall asleep, you’re going to land it onto the wrong part of the green and run off,” head coach Dan Brooks said.

The rest of Brooks’ inexperienced squad will need to be sharp if the Blue Devils hope to bring home their 17th ACC Championship. Brooks is confident, however, that his team can finally put together a title-worthy weekend, from top to bottom.

“If you look at the numbers, our gaps between our top one or two players and the rest were [large early in the season],” he said. “And as you look at it in these last few tournaments we’re starting to close the gap a little bit.... That’s really what I want—everyone’s really got to help the top player or two out.”

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