LAKE ELMO, Minn. – The preseason fourth-ranked Duke women’s golf team opened the 2018-19 campaign Monday in impressive fashion as the Blue Devils turned in a nine-under-par score, before lightning delayed the first round of the ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M first round at the 6,267-yard, Par 72 Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minn.
The action was delayed by lightning in the area at 3:04 p.m. (ET) with Duke holding a nine-under-par score. Play was later called for the day and will be resumed beginning at 9 a.m. (ET), Tuesday prior to the second round starting.
Three Blue Devils finished their rounds, one was on No. 18 and one on No. 17. Duke holds a one stroke lead over Alabama (-8), while Southern California (-6), Texas (-2), Northwestern (-1), UCLA (E), Arkansas (+4), Arizona (+5), South Carolina (+6) and Oklahoma State (+8) round out the top 10 teams.
Starting its round on hole No. 10, Duke held a three-over-par score over its first seven holes. The Blue Devils started heating up when they reached the first par five of the day, No. 17. Four Duke golfers birdied the par five and then Gina Kim and Virginia Elena Carta each birdied No. 18 as the Blue Devils made the turn at two-under.
Duke continued its solid golf on the front as the Blue Devils notched six birdies on holes No. 2 and No. 3 to move to eight-under-par as a team, which led the field. The Blue Devils were nine-under-par on the par fives with two golfers still yet to finish their round on the 504-yard, par five ninth.
Belac and Carta are one stroke behind Alabama’s Kenzie Wright (-5), who has three holes remaining in her first round.
Belac featured the best start to the day with birdies on No. 11, No. 13 and No. 17 and she led individually early. She had the putter working as she drained a 15-footer for birdie on her second hole and then hit her approach to within three feet for birdie on the 13th. Belac, who hails from Portoroz, Slovenia, then hit her wood on No. 17 to seven feet and two-putted for birdie.
After making the turn with a two-under, 34, Belac moved to four-under with back-to-back birdies on No. 2 and No. 3. She suffered two straight bogeys on No. 3 and No. 4 to drop back to two-under, but came back to collect two more birdies to close out the day with a four-under, 68. On the seventh, Belac rolled in a 20-footer for birdie and drained a four-footer for birdie on No. 8. She closed with a par on No. 9 as she missed a three-footer for birdie.
It marked Belac’s 11th career round in the 60s and second straight season-opening score in the 60s. Last year, she had a 67 in round one at the Jim West Challenge. Belac hit 15 greens, 13 fairways and had 29 putts on Monday.
Boonchant, who is from Bangkok, Thailand, was even par over the first seven holes with five pars, one birdie and one bogey. She collected her first birdie of the day on the 396-yard, par four 13th as she sank a 10-foot putt. Boonchant went on a stretch where she was four-under-par during the next 10 holes to move to four-under. She was on the green in two on the par five 17th and two-putted for birdie, made a four-footer for birdie on No. 2, hit it to six feet for birdie from 163 yards on the seventh and then rolled in a nine-foot birdie on No. 8. Boonchant finished the day with five birdies and a three-under, 69, after suffering a bogey on No. 9.
The 2018 Third Team Golfweek All-America now owns nine rounds in the 60s out of 13 career tournaments. She hit 15 greens, 11 fairways and had 30 putts on the day.
After opening at one-over-par through six holes, Carta caught fire with five birdies over her next nine holes and currently stands at four-under. A product of Udine, Italy, Carta has a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to close her first action as a senior. She dialed in her irons as she featured four birdie putts under six feet and was on the green in two on No. 2 and No. 18. Carta hit 11 fairways and 14 greens on the day.
Kim, a freshman from Chapel Hill, N.C., opened her collegiate career with three bogeys over her first seven holes. She settled down and birdied three out of her next four holes to move to even par. Kim’s first college birdie came on No. 17, after registering an incredible chip from over the green to within six feet. She added her second birdie on No. 18 as she hit a greenside bunker shot to eight feet, before making the putt. Kim’s third was on the par five second hole as she putted from off the back of the green to the edge of the cup for a tap-in birdie. She suffered a double-bogey on No. 5 and currently has two holes left to finish her round.
Sophomore Miranda Wang was three-over-par for her first five holes, but also settled in and notched birdies on No. 17 and No. 4 to move to one-over-par. Wang, a native of Beijing, China, added a bogey on No. 5 and a double-bogey on No. 7, while finishing with a four-over, 76.
Duke is scheduled to open round two at 10:05 a.m. (ET), along with Southern California and Minnesota.
Tuesday’s second round can be followed with live scoring at www.GolfStat.com.