NASHVILLE, TENN. – Behind a record performance by freshman Amanda Blumenherst, the top-ranked Duke women’s golf team came from behind for the second straight year to capture the title at the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship on Sunday with a team-best 296 at the 6,217-Yard, Par 72 Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. The Blue Devils finished with a three-day total of 878 to win by three strokes over Georgia, while Blumenherst captured the individual title with a 54-hole total of 208.
“It is great and anytime we have a win I am happy,” said Duke Head Coach Dan Brooks. “It is a good way to start the season. It wasn’t easy golf today as there was a lot of swirling win out there. I did feel like the weather was to our advantage because I know we have some smart golfers on this team. There are quite a few hazards and the angles around some of the greens invite you knock it into the hazard. I thought they did a great job negotiating those difficulties.”
Duke headed into the final day of action four strokes off the lead, but made up ground quickly and was able to open the 2005-06 season with a victory. Rounding out the top 10 teams were Georgia (881), Arkansas (884), UCLA (885), Auburn (889), Arizona State (891), Wake Forest (892), Vanderbilt (894), Florida (910) and Tulane (912). With the victory, Brooks now owns 90 career tournament victories and is one win shy of Mark Gale’s NCAA record of 91 career wins.
The day belonged to Duke’s Blumenherst as the freshman from Scottsdale, Ariz., carded a bogey-free round of 68 to win individual medallist honors by five strokes over Vanderbilt’s Jacqui Concolino (213) and Maria Martinez (213). Concolino lead for from the start, but shot a four-over-par, 76, during Sunday’s final round.
“It is so exciting,” commented Blumenherst on her win. “It is amazing. I have been hitting the ball well all year but my putting is now starting to come together. Today, I hit the ball really well and didn’t get into much trouble. I was able to put it on the green and had a lot of two-putts.”
Blumenherst began the day on hole five with a par and then sank a 25-foot putt on the par-three sixth which gave her a lot of momentum. She went on to birdie holes six and seven before posting nine consecutive pars. Blumenherst added her fourth birdie of the day on the par-four 17th and finished off the round with five straight pars. She hit 14 greens on Sunday and hit 10 of 14 fairways.
“I am very happy for Amanda,” said Brooks. “She is a good player and is strong. When you are playing in the wind you have to be able to hit the ball hard. I think the weather played in her favor.”
For the weekend, Blumenherst collected 13 birdies and played her final 27 holes of golf bogey-free. Her three-day total of 208 is the best opening round for a Duke freshman in school history. Blumenherst also joins former Duke National Player of the Year, Candy Hannemann, as the only Blue Devil freshmen to win their first collegiate tournament.
“I am happy winning individually, but I was so excited when I found out we had come back to win as a team,” said Blumenherst.”
Coming off playing only one tournament over the summer, junior Anna Grzebien finished seventh after posting her second straight round of 75 on Sunday. Grzebien, the 2005 NCAA Individual Champion, was one-under-par through 11 holes on Sunday but finished her last seven holes with four bogeys. The product of Narragansett, R.I., finished with a total of 219, which was seventh overall.
“I wanted to play better as I didn’t play my best, but it felt good to be back out here competing,” said Grzebien. “I am excited for the rest of the season to get back into the playing mindset. It was exciting to win as a team even though we didn’t play our best golf and the conditions were not great. It is good to know that we can win even though we didn’t play our best.”
“That just tells you how good Anna is and how good she knows she is,” said Brooks. “To only play one tournament over the summer and to have those expectations is great. It is only a matter of time for her.”
Duke’s other freshman, Jennie Lee, continued her solid play on Sunday finishing with a 54-hole total of 223, after carding a 76 on the final day. Lee, a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., totaled one birdie to go along with five bogeys on the day.
Senior Liz Janangelo opened her round with birdies on hole seven and eight, but responded with three straight bogeys and a triple-bogey on No. 13 to move her score to four-over-par on the morning. A West Hartford, Conn., product, Janangelo battled back to birdie the par-five 14th and played the final 10 holes at two-over-par to finish with a 77. For the tournament, Janangelo was tied for 30th with a 228.
Blue Devil sophomore Jennifer Pandolfi struggled on Sunday finishing with an 11-over-par, 83. She was 72nd in the individual action with a total of 239.
Duke will next travel down Tobacco Road to play in the Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Oct. 7-9 at the Finley Golf Course.
NOTES: Last year, Duke trailed by seven strokes going into the final day of action at the Mason Rudolph and trailed by 12 strokes after the first day of competition ... the 1999, 2002 and 2005 NCAA Champions, Duke has been one of the most dominating teams in Division I over the last seven years winning 51 tournaments, three NCAA Championships, six ACC Championships and finishing in the top five in 85 of its last 88 tournaments ... the Blue Devils also hold a 944-64-2 record in head-to-head competition over the last seven years ... Candy Hannemann’s victory in 1998 came at the Lady Tar Heel Tournament where she fired a three-day total of 212 ... Brittany Lang holds the Duke record for lowest round in her first collegiate tournament as she turned in a 67 at the NCAA Fall Preview in 2003.
- d - u - k - e -
MASON RUDOLPH CHAMPIONSHIP AGATE
1. Duke 285+297+296=878
2. Georgia 285+293+303=881
3. Arkansas 291+296+297=884
4. UCLA 290+295+300=885
5. Auburn 291+298+300=889
6. Arizona State 287+292+312=891
7. Wake Forest 288+302+302=892
8. Vanderbilt 279+299+316=894
9. Florida 301+300+309=910
10. Tulane 297+298+317=912
11. Oklahoma State 300+313+309=922
12. Texas 301+312+314=927
13. Furman 299+309+320=928
14. Arizona 302+318+311=931
15. Missouri 302+313+320=935
Individual Standings (Top 10)
1. Amanda Blumenherst, Duke 69+71+68=208 (-8);
T2. Jacqui Conconlino, Vanderbilt 68+69+76=213 (-3)
Maria Martinez, Auburn 69+73+71=213 (-3)
4. Mandy Goins, Wake Forest 70+74+72=216 (E)
5. Azahara Munoz, Arizona State 70+72+75=217 (+1)
6. Nicole Hage, Auburn 71+74+73=218 (+2)
7. Anna Grzebien, Duke 69+75+75=219 (+3)
T8. Hannah Jun, UCLA 72+74+74=220 (+4)
Taylor Leon, Georgia 72+73+75=220 (+4)
Jennifer Osborn, Arizona State 75+71+74=220 (+4)
Whitney Wade, Georgia 73+71+76=220 (+4)
Amanda Blumenherst 69+71+68=208 (-8, 1st)
Anna Grzebien 69+75+75=219 (+3, 7th)
Jennie Lee 74-73-76=223 (+7, T16)
Liz Janangelo 73-78-77=228 (+12, T30)
Jennifer Pandolfi 77-79-83=239 (+23, 72nd)