In their first team outing after their national championship last May, the No. 2 Blue Devils headed to the Midwest in what proved to be a trying week.
The ANNIKA Intercollegiate, set at the Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minn., hosted seven of the top 11 teams, as well as two other ranked opponents, to make up the majority of the 12-team opening week event.
Duke finished the event in ninth place and shot an 883 for 19-over par. Individually, sophomore Gina Kim shot a one-under, 215 and finished in a tie for 11th place to lead the Blue Devils. No. 9 Wake Forest brought home the team championship with a 17-under three round score of 847, which was 14 shots ahead of second place and preseason No. 26 Arkansas.
“Clearly not the finish we were looking for,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks told GoDuke.com Wednesday. “Hats off to Wake for their fantastic tournament. We will continue to work hard and the scores will come. The season is young.”
Kim’s highlight reel hole came on her ninth of the second day, the par-five 18th hole from a distance of 451 yards. Kim needed only two shots to make it onto the green and then she drained her first eagle putt of her college career.
On the same hole that Kim eagled the previous day, Shepherd knocked in her first college eagle and finished the round four shots over par. Kim and Shepherd were two of only 19 golfers to eagle at least one hole.
The Blue Devil lineup of Kim, junior Jaravee Boonchant, senior Ana Belac, redshirt junior Miranda Wang and freshman Erica Shepherd opened up play Monday with a four-over, 292 for ninth place overall after 18 holes.
Shepherd, in her first career collegiate tournament, shot an even 72 to place in a tie for 15th with 36 holes remaining. The Greenwood, Ind., native birdied her first hole—the par four, 345-yard 10th hole. Belac also finished with the same score and birdied holes 3, 9, 15 and 18.
“Obviously, I was pretty nervous,” Shepherd told GoDuke.com Monday after the completion of her first collegiate round. “But I think that qualifying, how stressful that was, really prepared me. I learned how to keep my nerves under control. Just having the team here with me really helped. Just tried to stay steady and kept it simple.”
Kim birdied three of her final four holes—the 6th, 8th and 9th—to finish one shot over par. On the front nine—Kim started on the back nine—she was two shots below par. The sophomore also hit a pair of birdies on holes 15 and 18.
Boonchant drained a birdie on the par-three 16 and finished the round four shots over par. Wang concluded the opening round with a trio of birdies and three shots over par.
On day two, Kim birdied her second and sixth holes and finished her round two shots under par and in a tie for 13th place. The Chapel Hill native drained two more birdies on the morning round.
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As a team, the Blue Devils moved up a place in the standings after 36 holes into eighth and needed three shots less than Monday’s round to do so.
Boonchant and Wang each hit a pair birdies and finished the middle round at four-over and six-over, respectively.
The start of the third and final day of the tournament did not go as smoothly as the previous two, as the weather put a wrinkle into the start times. After an initial one-hour delay, the start times were then pushed back another hour and changed to a shotgun start.
After the delay, Kim carded three birdies and finished her round with an even 72 for a tie for 11th place.
“I think this was a really good challenge for our team to get back into the tournament mode,” Kim told GoDuke Wednesday. “We didn't do as well as we had hoped to, but I think this is a great learning experience for all of us to take in and figure out what we should do for our next tournament.”
Belac had four birdies and finished four shots over par in a tie for 26th place. Boonchant birdied the ninth and 18th holes to finish in a tie for 42nd place while Shepherd drained four birdies to close out her first event in 44th place. Wang finished one shot behind Shepherd for a tie for 45th place as she converted four birdies.
Collectively, the Blue Devils carded a 302 for the final round. Duke also finished second in par three average with a 3.12 for seven shots over. On par fours, the Blue Devils were 42 shots over in ninth place with an average score of 4.28. Finally, on the par fives where Kim and Shepherd each earned eagles, Duke finished in a tie for third and 16 shots under par for 4.72 average.
The Blue Devils also finished with the fifth-most birdies with 44 total and their two eagles placed them in sixth place.
Individually, Boonchant finished the tournament with the most pars at 38. Kim’s 12 and Belac’s 11 birdies finished in a tie for 10th and 12th, respectively.
Duke will partake in its next tournament Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Windy City Collegiate Classic near Chicago. The event will take place at the Glen View Club in Golf, Ill.