GREENSBORO, N.C. - Duke senior Alison Whitaker carded a two-under-par, 70, on Friday to open the 2010 ACC Championship and sits as the individual leader heading into the second round at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. As a team, the Blue Devils opened with a four-over-par, 288, and is tied for second only two shots off the lead.
Whitaker, who is a native of Melbourne, Australia, scrambled all day as she hit only six fairways, but notched 28 putts on her way to collecting the best round of her four-year career in ACC Championship action. She holds a one-shot lead over four golfers, including teammate Stacey Kim (70).
"It was an interesting day," commented Whitaker. "I think anyone who was watching me would have thought I would have played a lot worse than I did. I had some fluky pars and kind of hit it all over the shelf today. It was kind of good to be honest with you. I holed some really good putts."
A two-time All-ACC selection, Whitaker had her putter working all day and on the 456-yard, par five 15th she rolled in a 20-footer for eagle to move to two-under-par for the day. She had 178 yards into the green for her second shot on the par five No. 15 and was able to hit her four-iron over the water just flying over the green side bunker. Overall, Whitaker played her final eight holes at four-under-par with birdies on No. 11 and No. 13, after opening the first nine at one-over-par.
"This course isn't playing extremely long but you need to be really patient," said Whitaker. "Just because it is a shorter course than we might be used to, it doesn't mean there is going to be a lot of birdies out there because of the greens. It is a Donald Ross design and he is kind of notorious for making uphill slops go downhill and vice versa. There are some tricky breaks out there so just trusting your lines, really committing to your golf and committing to where you are hitting the ball is important. Sometimes you cannot go for flags and you have to suck it up, hit it to the fat of the green and make a putt. I think that is really important."
As a team, Duke totaled a 288 and trailed Wake Forest (286) by only two strokes. The Blue Devils are tied with Virginia (288), while Maryland (299), Florida State (301), N.C. State (301), North Carolina (302), Miami (318) and Boston College (324) round out the field.
Seeing action in her first ACC Championship, Kim had the best start of the day for the Blue Devils as she reached three-under-par and was the individual leader through nine holes. At one time, she hit eight straight greens on the front nine after missing the green on the first hole. A product of Columbus, Ga., Kim suffered a double-bogey on the 10th hole but rebounded with her fifth birdie of the day on the 397-yard, par four 11th as she drained a 30-footer off the fringe.
"For me, my long game was pretty good today," said Kim. "It is easy to hit the greens when you hit it straight. My short game was good as well. I was able to stay in the present and took every shot one-by-one. The course is going to be tricky so you have to be smart."
Kim had chances for birdie coming in but couldn't get the putts to drop. For the day, she hit 14 greens, 10 fairways and had 31 putts. Her round of one-under-par, 71, marked her sixth even or under par round of the season.
Freshman Lindy Duncan also had a solid start as she birdied the first and second holes, while just barely missing a birdie on No. 3, on her way to leading the tournament through three holes. Duncan, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ran into trouble on the 481-yard, par five fifth hole as her second shot went off to the right on her approach. It took her two chips to get it on the green and went on to three-put to move her back to even par.
Duncan closed strong with a birdie on No. 15. After sticking her approach shot within inches on the 18th hole, she made her fourth birdie of the day to close with an even-par 72. She enters the final round tied for sixth overall. For the day, Duncan hit 14 greens, nine fairways and had 32 putts.
Junior Kim Donovan had a solid round going through 14 holes as she was three-over-par, but a double-bogey and two bogeys in a three-hole stretch made her finish with a 78. She is tied for 26th overall. After opening the first nine holes with a two-over-par, 37, freshman Courtney Ellenbogen struggled on holes 10-14 as she was six-over-par during that stretch as she finished with a 78. She registered her lone birdie on the 351-yard, par four eighth as she rolled in a 16-foot putt.
"Those three rounds [Whitaker, Kim and Duncan] I am real happy with," said Duke Head Coach Dan Brooks. "Two of them are freshmen and this is their first competitive round at Sedgefield. To go even or under par on a Donald Ross course the first time you have competed on it is great golf. I watched Whitaker eagle the 15th hole -- she showed a lot of leadership today. We just need to get a fourth score and we would be in great shape. I think we will do that tomorrow."
Duke will tee off on Saturday beginning at 10:10 a.m., along with Wake Forest and Virginia.
- Alison Whitaker totaled 4-of-6 up-and-downs on the day and hit 11 greens in regulation.
- As a team, Duke registered 15 birdies.
- Three different Blue Devils held the individual lead at one point during the first round - Lindy Duncan, Stacey Kim and Alison Whitaker.
- d - u - k - e -
1 Team Scores
1 Wake Forest 286 +2
T2 Duke 288 +4
T2 Virginia 288 +4
4 Maryland, U. of 299 +15
T5 Florida State Univ. 301 +17
T5 North Carolina St. 301 +17
7 North Carolina 302 +18
8 Miami, U. of 318 +34
9 Boston College 324 +40
Start Finish Player Team Scores
- 1 Alison Whitaker Duke 69 -2
- T2 Calle Nielson Virginia 70 -1
- T2 Stacey Kim Duke 70 -1
- T2 Michelle Shin Wake Forest 70 -1
- T2 Cheyenne Woods Wake Forest 70 -1
- T6 Nicole Agnello Virginia 71 E
- T6 Lindy Duncan Duke 71 E
- T8 Carly Hunt Maryland, U. of 72 +1
- T8 Maria Salinas Florida State Univ. 72 +1
- T8 Brittany Altomare Virginia 72 +1
- T11 Emily Street North Carolina St. 73 +2
- T11 Kathleen Strandberg North Carolina St. 73 +2
- T11 Allie Bodemann Wake Forest 73 +2
- T11 Dolores White Wake Forest 73 +2
- T15 Christine Shimel Maryland, U. of 74 +3
- T15 Jessica Hollandsworth Maryland, U. of 74 +3
- T15 Courtney Gunter North Carolina 74 +3
- T15 Kate Thomas North Carolina 74 +3
- T19 Lauren Greenlief Virginia 75 +4
- T19 Jessica Negron Florida State Univ. 75 +4
- T21 Shelby Gilbert Miami, U. of 76 +5
- T21 Macarena Silva Florida State Univ. 76 +5
- T21 Sarah Thead North Carolina 76 +5
- T24 Brooke Baker North Carolina St. 77 +6
- T24 Natalie Sheary Wake Forest 77 +6
- T26 Meghan Martinek Boston College 78 +7
- T26 Meghan Chapman North Carolina St. 78 +7
- T26 Lacey Agnew Florida State Univ. 78 +7
- T26 Kim Donovan Duke 78 +7
- T26 Catherine O'Donnell North Carolina 78 +7
- T31 Kerri Connolly Maryland, U. of 79 +8
- T31 Hannah Thomson Florida State Univ. 79 +8
- T31 Courtney Ellenbogen Duke 79 +8
- 34 Begona Sarabia Miami, U. of 80 +9
- T35 Carrie Barbee Boston College 81 +10
- T35 Hayley Brown Maryland, U. of 81 +10
- T35 Eunice Yim Boston College 81 +10
- T35 Christina Hirano Miami, U. of 81 +10
- T35 Maria Ronderos Miami, U. of 81 +10
- T35 Julie Saleeby North Carolina St. 81 +10
- T41 Kelsey Rockey Boston College 84 +13
- T41 Jordan Allyne North Carolina 84 +13
- 43 Kaela Klune Boston College 85 +14
- 44 Melanie Kleiner Miami, U. of 89 +18
- 45 Whitney Neuhauser Virginia 94 +23