As 2022 comes to a close, The Chronicle's sports department takes a look back at the biggest stories of the year in Duke athletics. Each day, we will review a major game, event or storyline that helped shape the course of the year for the Blue Devils.
Coming in at No. 10: Duke women’s golf pulled through with a fifth-place finish at the ACC Championship and an early exit in NCAA competition, but the team found bright spots in Phoebe Brinker’s ACC title and Anne Chen’s victory in the Chattanooga Classic. For the full list, click here.
When the Blue Devils lost in the semifinal of the ACC match-play semifinals to Florida State Apr. 17, there was still plenty to take away from the individual category. In the stroke-play portion of the tournament, used to determine seeding for the top-four teams and decide the individual title, then-sophomore Phoebe Brinker exploded.
After the inaugural day of the tournament’s final leg, Brinker held a four-stroke lead over the next closest competitor and at one point managed to stretch the lead to as many as eight strokes. In the end, she managed to finish 10 strokes under par and six strokes ahead of the next closest competitor, fellow Blue Devil and then-junior Erica Shepherd. In the end, Brinker took home the individual title and tied the tournament record by shooting a 65 in her second round.
“Walking up the 18th hole, there's a big leaderboard. … So I definitely processed it a little bit before. And then as I was putting, I was just so excited, such a dream come true,” said Brinker on the excitement coming into the final hole.
Another big performance from a Blue Devil came in the Chattanooga Classic in April, where Anne Chen used an impressive front-nine 32 in her final round to catapult herself to victory. After that, she rode a solid performance in the latter half, including birdies on 11 and 18, to total a bogey-free score of 66 to win.
“This has been one of my goals since I started freshman year …This just helps me believe that I'm a good player. This is what my work has paid off,” said Chen after her victory in Tennessee.
Despite failing to win the ACC, Duke received an at-large bid for the NCAA Regional Championship. The Blue Devils' season came to a premature end when they finished fifth in the Franklin Regional after a difficult day that ended with two Duke golfers, Shepherd and Chen, tied for the highest position amongst the Blue Devils in 11th place. Brinker struggled in the Franklin tournament, finishing tied for 21st at +3.
Duke could not come through when it mattered in NCAA play and could not capture its second-straight ACC team title, but strong performances from Brinker, Chen and Shepherd will be bright spots for the team moving forward as it prepares for more tough battles in April and May in the coming spring season.
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