Disappointment in Chapel Hill

Lindy Duncan recovered from a poor first round to finish seventh overall at the Tar Heel Invitational
Lindy Duncan recovered from a poor first round to finish seventh overall at the Tar Heel Invitational

CHAPEL HILL—You cannot win a golf tournament on the first day, but you can certainly lose one, as Lindy Duncan and the Blue Devils found out this weekend.

Despite a strong second-day tally of one under par Saturday, No. 11 Duke was unable to make up lost ground after a disappointing Friday total of 10-over par, and settled for 10th place at the Tar Heel Invitational, held at Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Blue Devils finished with a cumulative total of 15-over par, 23 shots behind winner LSU.

“We’re not happy with tenth place. We’re a better team than that talent-wise,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “We just need to stay on track and keep working hard, and we’ll improve.”

Duncan, a two-time All-American, looked to continue her winning ways after taking home the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview two weeks ago. Duncan’s personal fortunes mirrored those of the team this weekend, however, and the junior struggled to pull herself out of a disappointing first-day hole.

Duncan bogeyed three par-4s and a par-3 Friday, and only managed two birdies to record a 2-over par total of 74 on a day when the players atop the leaderboard were scoring with ease, with eight golfers posting sub-70 rounds.

She played nearly flawless golf the rest of the weekend, however, and stormed up the standings after a round of 68 Saturday, marred only by a bogey on the 376-yard par-4 18th—one of the toughest holes on the golf course.

“Lindy’s learning all the time and that’s what I like about her most,” Brooks said. “She’s really gaining knowledge of herself and of the game, and how the game rewards you.”

Duncan capped the weekend with a pitch-in eagle on the 330-yard, par-4 seventh. From around 85 yards away from the pin, Duncan lofted a sand-wedge over a large bunker guarding the front edge of the green to just behind the flag, where the ball spun backward into the hole for an eagle two. After playing her final two rounds at a combined 7-under par, Duncan finished in seventh place, just four shots behind Auburn’s Marta Sanz, who won at 9-under par.

Excluding Duncan, Duke labored across course architect Tom Fazio’s tricky 6,285-yard, par-72 design, which leaves little room for error with undulating greens and hazards guarding the landing areas on nearly every hole. As a team, the Blue Devils fired 54 bogeys and six double bogeys compared to just 34 birdies.

Sophomore Laetitia Beck paced Duke on the first day with an even-par 72, but missed the second day of play in observance of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Rejoining the team Sunday, Beck lost her touch around the greens and was unable to convert on her chances, recording a team-high 34 putts en route to a 4-over par 76. Despite Beck’s absence, Duke shot its best round of the weekend Saturday and erased nearly all of its deficit with a team score of 287. With only four players, each of the individual scores would be counted in the team total, and according to Brooks, the pressure actually helped the team immensely.

“There is a bit of a cushion mentally knowing we can throw out a score [with five players], but when we played without any sense of that everybody stepped up and we had a really good day,” Brooks said.

Fellow sophomore Aleja Cangrejo finished in tie for 73rd after struggling to figure out the back nine at Finley. The sophomore played those nine holes of the course at a cumulative 5-over par, and double bogeys plagued her on the front side.

Junior Stacey Kim rebounded from her 57th-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview to finish in a tie for 29th at 4-over par. Freshman Irene Jung never recovered from a first-day 82 and finished tied for 86th.

“I think in some areas that aren’t so visible we are getting better,” Brooks said. “It just isn’t showing up in the numbers yet.”


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