As the Duke women’s golf season draws to a close after Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma State in the NCAA semifinals, there are a lot of great factors to reflect on. Among them is the performance of freshman Phoebe Brinker, who was outstanding in her first year at the collegiate level.
Brinker was instrumental in the team’s run to the semifinals to cap off an exceptional season. In stroke play at the NCAA Championship this past week, Brinker finished two strokes under par and tied for fifth individually—alongside fellow Blue Devil Gina Kim—with respective rounds of 73, 70, 72, and 71. In match play Sunday, Brinker defeated Amanda Linner 2&1 in a quarterfinal showdown against Arizona State before falling to Oklahoma State's Rina Tatematsu in a close semifinal match, 3&2.
As defending national champions, Duke women’s golf no doubt had high expectations this year. Despite this, Brinker shined throughout her freshman campaign. In what was only her second collegiate appearance at the Gamecock Intercollegiate, she placed third individually, scoring two-under. To follow this up, the native of Wilmington, Del., scored 10-under and finished second at the Valspar Augusta Invitational. She placed an underwhelming 33rd at the NCAA Columbus Regional and 32nd at the ACC Championship but bounced back to end the season at the NCAA Championship.
Brinker has deep roots in the women’s golf community. This primarily stems from her aunt, Suzy Whaley, who is the first ever female PGA of America president and, in 2003, became the first woman to qualify for a PGA tournament in 58 years. Brinker has had a lot to live up to within the Duke golfing program as well as women’s golf as a whole.
Looking forward to 2022, Duke women’s golf is sure to once again be one of the top teams in the nation. Having already made it to the national semifinals with a young roster, these players—all of whom, with the exception of Jaravee Boonchant, are expected to return to the program—will only develop over time. As Duke women’s golf looks to return to the top next season, Brinker is sure to be a significant piece.