PALOS VERDES, Calif. – In the season opening spring tournament, the third-ranked Duke women’s golf team closed with a five-over-par, 289, to finish second overall at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge with a 54-hole total of 873 at the 6,017-yard, par 71 Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif.
“I take a lot of positives away from it,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “The fact that our seniors didn’t play their best and we ended up only seven shots back. We were playing USC on one of their home courses, and we were coming out of that winter we had. So there are a lot of positives there.”
Southern California closed the tournament with a three-day ledger of 866 to win by seven strokes over the Blue Devils (873). Rounding out the top 10 was Arizona State (875), UCLA (881), Washington (881), Arizona (882), Baylor (884), Oklahoma (893), Wake Forest (894) and North Carolina (899). Duke posted rounds of 290, 294 and 289 over the three days of action.
Blue Devil rookie Yu Liu carded two birdies over her final three holes to jump into a tie for third where she finished along with four other golfers. Liu, who is out of Beijing, China, posted rounds of 68, 74 and 73 for a three-day total of 215. In four collegiate tournaments, Liu has notched top 10 placements in all four. She collected five birdies on the day as she hit 13 greens, 11 fairways and drained 29 putts.
“Yu is fantastic,” commented Brooks. “She adapted to the course really well. It was the first time she had seen it. With a few different course management choices, she would have played even better. There is a lot of promise for her.”
Southern California’s Annie Park registered the wire-to-wire individual victory with rounds of 67, 67 and 73 for a total of 207.
Sophomore Celine Boutier notched rounds of 72, 72 and 74 over the three days on her way to finishing tied 12th with a 218. It marks her fourth top 20 placement of the season. Boutier, who is from Montrouge, France, rolled in two birdies on Tuesday and 12 total for the three days of play.
Playing in only her second collegiate tournament, freshman Esther Lee collected a tied for 22nd finish with rounds of 74, 75 and a 72 for a three-day ledger of 221. Lee, who was seeing action in her home state of California, opened the day with a two-under-par score through 13 holes, after notching birdies on the fifth and 11th holes. She dropped two shots on holes 12 and 13 with bogeys, before closing with a par, birdie and bogey to finish with a 72. Lee hit 11 fairways, 13 greens and had 36 putts on the day.
Turning in Duke’s best round of the day was senior Laetitia Beck with a one-under-par, 70. Beck, a product of Caesarea, Israel, opened on fire with three birdies over her first six holes to move to three-under-par. After opening her round on hole five, Beck suffered a bogey on No. 12, but got back to three-under-par with a birdie on the 322-yard, par four 17th. She closed with two bogeys over her final two holes to finish at one-under-par and a 54-hole total of 221, which was tied 22nd. Beck hit 13 greens, 11 fairways and had 30 putts for her round.
Senior Alejandra Cangrejo carded an 18-hole total of 78 in Tuesday’s final round as she placed tied 49th overall with a 228. She hit 12 greens, seven fairways and had 36 putts to close the tournament.
“It is a challenging golf course, but I would say the conditions were tougher the last two days and I think the pins were the toughest today,” said Brooks.
Duke will next compete in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head, S.C., from March 7-9.