Since their fourth-place finish at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate earlier this month, the Blue Devils had two weeks—including a one without classes—to buckle down and work hard to improve as the postseason draws nearer.
Facing a novel course and yet another challenging field, Duke will have an opportunity to put that hard work on display as it vies for its fourth title of the season.
The Blue Devils will travel to Auburn, Ala., Sunday through Tuesday to compete in the Evans Derby Experience, a three-day event hosted by Auburn University and named after two of the school’s former coaches, Kim Evans and Virginia Derby Grimes. The 54-hole competition will be played at the par-72 Auburn University Club, where the team has not played since 2005, and provides an opportunity for Duke to bounce back after a slow start to the spring season—the team won three of four events in the fall, but has placed eighth and fourth in its two spring tournaments.
Following her fifth top-10 finish in six starts, Leona Maguire will tee off as the scoring average leader for the Blue Devils, tallying 70.6 strokes per round and finishing ahead of more than 92 percent of golfers she’s been up against. Although the senior lacks the same playing experience at the 6,280-yard track that she has at other courses that appear more regularly in Duke’s schedule, succeeding on new courses has been no issue for Maguire this season—the two times she’s teed off on courses she’s never played before, Maguire has tied for ninth and won.
Jaravee Boonchant will try and keep her solid play rolling after shooting 71, 75 and 71 to tie for sixth and lead the Blue Devils in Hilton Head two weeks ago. The impressive finish was the latest highlight in what has been an historic season for the freshman, who has one of the lowest rookie-year scoring averages ever for a Duke golfer and has finished outside the top 15 just once.
Hailing from Portoroz, Slovenia, Ana Belac will also start following significant improvement during her last tournament, when she carded a 7-over-par total thanks to a final-round 69 that allowed her to vault up the leaderboard late in the event. Ultimately, the sophomore tied for 15th—45 spots better than in her 2018 debut—and will look to keep that momentum rolling this week.
Although the field is not as tough as that at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate—which featured six top-10 teams—two squads that gave the Blue Devils trouble in Hilton Head will be in the field again this week. Competing alongside Duke will be six other ranked teams, including No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Arkansas—the team champions and runner-ups at the South Carolina event— as well as No. 8 South Carolina, No. 12 Florida, No. 20 Wake Forest and No. 23 Louisville.
Miranda Wang will make the sixth start of her freshman campaign this week in Auburn as she tries to improve on two 2018 results of a tie for 40th and tie for 49th. The Beijing native’s best finish this year was in October’s Landfall Tradition, when she tied for 18th place with a score of 1-over-par.
A senior from Cavan, Ireland, Lisa Maguire will complete the Blue Devil lineup following a tie-for-46th-place finish at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate resulting from rounds of 76, 75 and 76. Maguire currently holds a 75.8 stroke average in three starts this season.
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