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Student of the Game: Lindy Duncan
Sunday 04/28/2011  -  Johnny Moore, GoDuke The Magazine
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Courtesy: Gabe Chmielewski
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Lindy Duncan
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DURHAM, N.C.Lindy Duncan is a woman who knows what she wants to be.

She has known it since she was a little girl and has sacrificed and set into motion everything she could possibly do to achieve her goal.

The goal is to be a professional golfer, and Duncan seems well on her way now that she is nearly two years into her college career as a member of the Duke women’s golf program.

Earlier this spring, Duncan was named the ACC golfer of the month for March. The sophomore put together a very impressive performance against strong competition at the LSU Tiger Classic for her first victory of the season and second collegiate win. She posted rounds of 72-75-71 for a 218 total, which was tied for the lead after 54 holes. Duncan went on to win the tournament on the third playoff hole with three straight pars, defeating Louisville’s AnnaKarin Ljungstrom.

Later, at the Bryan National Collegiate, Duncan turned in a tie for seventh place with rounds of 77-72-75. That gave her four top-5 and six top-10 finishes on the season — not surprising for a player who was ranked as one of the best in college golf following her freshman season.

But it all began as a little girl with a dream in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — a dream to play on the LPGA Tour.

With that dream in mind she decided to really work to be the best she could be at golf, making the decision to be home-schooled so that she would have more time to dedicate to the game of golf. 

“I was home-schooled for most of middle school and most of high school,” said Duncan. “I went to high school my senior year. Leading up to senior year, I did all of my classes online through the University of Miami. I did tests on-line. I ordered books through Amazon. It was a top school and it prepared me well for Duke. Then I went my senior year to American Heritage and it helped prepare me socially for college.”

Duncan’s father owned his own business, so he was able to craft out time in his schedule to coach her in the mornings. She would then go home in the middle of the day and do her school work and return to the course in the afternoon to work more on her game.

“It was all for golf,” she explained. “I thought that going to regular school from 9 to 4, I wasn’t getting to practice as much as I wanted to and I knew I had to improve to become a college scholarship player and maybe get to my dream of being a pro. It was a tough decision, but I know that it helped my game tremendously and I don’t think I would be here at Duke if I hadn’t gone through those years of preparation.”

During that time she put together a very impressive resume in the golf world.

In 2008 she earned AJGA second team Rolex Junior All-America and Sun-Sentinel player of the year. She posted seven top-5 finishes in AJGA events, winning the 2006 First American Title Junior Classic, and played in four U.S. Girls Junior Championships. She also played in the 2008 LPGA Ginn Open and missed the cut with rounds of 79-74. She led American Heritage to the 1A state championship in 2008, their third title in four years, and picked up the individual state championship in the process.

Duncan also qualified for the 2006 and 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur and advanced to the first round of match play in 2007.

Duncan’s college decision came down to Duke and Florida. She fell in love with Duke on her recruiting visit.

“When I was on my visit, Amanda (Blumenherst) was here and I was able to spend some time with her and found out a little about how special it is to be a part of this Duke golf program,” she said, adding that she was impressed with Duke’s totals of 27 All-America golfers and 13 members of the LPGA Tour. “I also realize that while I have this dream of being a professional golfer that having a Duke degree to fall back on is so valuable.”

Since making that decision, Duncan has put together an excellent run both on and off the course. As a freshman she became just the third ACC golfer to earn both player and rookie of the year accolades, and she was the sixth Duke freshman to earn first team All-America honors.

She was named national player of the week following her victory at the Liz Murphey and notched a 72.76 stroke average, which is the third best in school history for a freshman and eighth best overall. She placed in the top 10 in five other tourneys.

And she was an All-ACC Academic Team selection.

“Coach (Dan) Brooks has been amazing to work with,” said Duncan. “He is very flexible in being able to work with all the girls and meet all of their needs, both academically and in the golfing world. If we have a review session or a time when we need to work on the academic side and leave a little early, he is very accommodating. He really helps us be better players and students.”

Her play this season has seen her ranked as high as fourth in the Golfweek Sagarin rankings. The Duke team is ranked seventh and Duncan ninth individually heading into the NCAA regionals. She placed fourth at the recent ACC Championships and helped Duke to a runnerup team finish.

Duncan is a part of a very young Duke team, a team that consists of just two freshmen, three sophomores and one senior.

“Last year we had three freshmen, a very young team, and we were all in the same boat. We really didn’t know what it meant to be on a team,” she explained. “We had been on high school teams, but not nearly to the degree we have here, practicing together, traveling together. I have really enjoyed working with my teammates and playing in tournaments as a team.

“I consistently try to remind myself of what great preparation time this is for me if I do get the opportunity to play professionally,” she added. “The whole college experience — the golf, the classroom pressure — is what I need to learn how to handle things if I truly want to reach my goal of being a professional golfer.”
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