GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Since moving the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship to the Sedgefield Country Club in 2009, the Duke women’s golf team saw its 13-year streak of titles come to an end for three consecutive years. The Blue Devils snapped that streak on Sunday as ninth-ranked Duke registered a 10-stroke victory to claim its 17th overall ACC Championship, while Lindy Duncan won the individual title by six strokes at the 6,163-Yard, Par 71 Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
“I have had a love-hate relationship with Sedgefield because I absolutely love this golf course, but I hated the fact that we could not win here,” said Brooks. “We haven’t been the team that we were for a decade or so but I still felt like we could win here and we did have a monkey on our backs, so this means a lot.”
As a team, Duke carded rounds of 280, 303 and 292 over the three days to total 875, which was 23-over-par. The Blue Devils won by 10 strokes over North Carolina (885), while Wake Forest (892), Florida State (899), Virginia (903), N.C. State (909), Maryland (917), Miami (928) and Boston College (934) rounded out the field.
“I haven’t played in a U.S. Open,” commented Brooks on the difficulty of the course. “I have watched a few and when the greens are rolling at 12 plus, with severe undulation and firmness, it has got to be close to what they deal with in an Open. On top of it, the wind was gusting heavily. It was a very challenging golf course.”
The wire-to-wire title was the 16th overall under Brooks and the 17th in Duke history. The ACC Championship is also the first in 2011-12 by any Duke University team in tournament action.
“The energy was there,” said Brooks. “We definitely knew how important this was. It wasn’t something I spent a lot of time talking about to the team. I think it is easy to push a golfer over the top by talking about winning too much. But it was pretty obvious to everybody how important this tournament was. I didn’t give them a lot of rah-rah speeches about winning the ACC. It is not like football, you don’t do it quite the same.”
Duncan, who is out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., registered her fourth victory of the season and sixth of her career on Sunday with a 54-hole total of 210, which was three-under-par. She is the 11th different Blue Devil to register an ACC title and the 15th time in school history a Duke golfer has won an individual championship. It is the first since Amanda Blumenherst’s title in 2008.
“It was a very long week and really hard conditions,” said Duncan. “All of us had to stay patient and hit a lot of fairways and greens. Luckily, I was putting really well all week and I think that is what kept me in it the most and I am just really excited.”
Once again Duncan and the rest of the field had to battle strong winds and very challenging conditions on Sunday in the final round. The No. 1 ranked golfer in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, Duncan registered four birdies and four bogeys on the day on her way to shooting even par, 71. Three of her four birdies were registered on the par fives on Sunday, including an amazing shot on the 15th that led to a birdie. Duncan was left with a downhill chip in the rough, after hitting her second shot past the green. She used an eight iron and chipped it to within inches to post a birdie.
“Lindy is very creative and very, very motivated to play well,” commented Brooks on Duncan winning. “It matters a lot to her and she puts it right out there. She made it clear how important this tournament was for her. I have found the very best athletes can say it to the world and then go do it. She is that kind of kid.”
On the day, Duncan hit 11 greens, six fairways and had 29 putts. With Duncan’s four victories on the season, she moves into a tie for third on Duke’s single-season wins list along with Blumenherst.
Duncan won by six strokes over Olafia Kristinsdottir (216) of Wake Forest, Alejandra Cangrejo (216) of Duke and Maria Salinas (216) of Florida State.
After posting a birdie on No. 16 and eagle on No. 18, Cangrejo jumped into a tie for second overall with a 54-hole total of 216, which if five strokes better than her career-best placement. On the day, she hit 11 greens, seven fairways and had 30 putts. Cangrejo, a native of Bogota, Colombia, had four bogeys and 11 pars over her first 15 holes before rolling in an eight-foot birdie on the 140-yard, par three 16th. She then hit her five wood from 194 yards out to within nine feet and rolled in her second eagle of the season to finish with an one-over-par, 72.
Sophomore Laetitia Beck finished ninth overall with rounds of 71, 79 and 72 for a total of 222. She posted Duke’s first birdie of the day on the 377-yard, par four fourth hole as she rolled in a nine foot putt. Beck, who is from Caesarea, Israel, ended up three-over-par heading into the 15th hole before draining a nine-foot birdie putt on No. 15 and a 16-footer on the 17th to finish with a 72. She hit 12 greens, five fairways and had 31 putts on Sunday.
After back-to-back birdies on No. 15 and No. 16, junior Stacey Kim dropped her score back to two-over-par in the final round, but finished bogey, triple-bogey on the way in to finish with a 77. For the weekend, Kim tied for 19th with a total of 228. On Sunday she hit 11 greens, seven fairways and had a team-high 34 putts. Kim, a product of Columbus, Ga., registered two of her three birdies on the par threes on Sunday, including a near hole-in-one on the 160-yard, par three seventh hole.
Junior Courtney Ellenbogen tied for 36th with rounds of 77, 80 and 80 for a total of 237. She posted her lone birdie of the day on the fifth hole as she rolled in a 12-footer. On the round, she hit 10 fairways, six greens and had 33 putts.
As a team, Duke had 12 birdies on the day and featured 44 over the three days at Sedgefield, which tied a season best. The Blue Devils will next await the NCAA Regionals on May 10-12. The sites are Ohio State, Penn State and Colorado.
“I have three juniors that I have been with for a long time and over the last couple of years we have had trouble getting started,” said Brooks on going wire-to-wire. “We will have a bad first or second round. Then we will come back and do well but we cannot do well enough. Going into this tournament, we talked about getting off to a good start and getting a solid round under our belts early. I was so happy for them to do that. Addressing it is one thing and doing it is another. Sometimes just talking about a problem isn’t the answer for it, but it worked this time.”
• Alejandra Cangrejo had the only eagle of the day and one of only four in the three days of the championship.
• Lindy Duncan owns five top five finishes and eight top 10 placements in eight tournaments this season.
• Alejandra Cangrejo posted her second straight top 20 finish and matched a career-best with a tied for second place finish. She owns seven top 20 placements in her two years.
• The last time Duke has held a third round lead and won the team title was on March 28, 2010 at the Liz Murphey Collegiate. The Blue Devils led by nine going into the third round and won by 21 strokes.