TULSA, Okla. – The Duke women’s golf team carded a five-over-par, 285, Wednesday on its way to moving into second place at the 2014 NCAA Championship, which is being played at the 6,174 yard, par 70 Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
The Blue Devils own a 36-hole total of 578 and trail Oklahoma (575) by three strokes with two days remaining. Rounding out the top 10 teams are Arizona State (580), UCLA (584), Arizona (584), Southern California (584), Stanford (586), Mississippi State (587), Washington (588) and Michigan State (588).
“The wind was a little bit less severe, same direction,” commented Duke head coach Dan Brooks on the round today. “We got to play the front side first. We were very patient. I was proud of my team. They handled things really well. It was gustier today, so you had to do more thinking on your par-three shots. I’m really proud of what we did today.”
Starting the morning on No. 1 Wednesday, the Blue Devils played holes 1-9 much better in the second round and made the turn at one-over-par. After totaling three birdies on No. 1-9 in the first round, Duke carded nine birdies Wednesday.
“There are some tough holes, particularly on the front side,” said Brooks. “It’s just a great golf course. With the conditions, it’s all championship-type stuff. I try not to dissect the course. I try to get my team to see it as one shot at a time. There aren’t hard holes. There aren’t easy holes. It’s just one shot at a time. The front has some tough holes on it though.”
Duke sophomore Celine Boutier continues to hover around the top of the individual leaderboard posting rounds of even-par, 70, and is tied fifth with a 140. Boutier, who is out of Montrouge, France, held a two-under-par ledger through most of the day, but two double-bogeys on No. 14 and No. 18 dropped her back to even par.
“I thought I played pretty well throughout the course,” commented Boutier. “My putting was really good today, so that definitely helped me. I made a lot of birdies, I think I had five of them. That’s pretty good with the conditions. Today was a pretty good day for me.”
Boutier opened her round with three birdies on No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4, along with a bogey on No. 2. She went on to par the next six holes, before suffering her second bogey of the day on the 366-yard, par four 11th, after hitting her tee shot off the fairway to the right by a tree. Boutier came right back with a birdie on No. 12, but for the second straight day she hit her tee shot on a par three in the water and finished with a double-bogey on the 175-yard, par three 14th.
After dropping back to even-par for the day, Boutier once again responded strong with back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to get back to two-under. She turned in a solid par on the par three No. 17. On the closing hole, she hit her tee shot near a tree off the fairway and had to punch out into the fairway. Boutier ended up posting a double-bogey to finish at even par. She hit six fairways, 14 greens and had 30 putts.
Oklahoma’s Alexandra Kaui holds the individual lead with a five-under-par, 135, after shooting three-under Wednesday. Only three other golfers enter the third round under par – Allyssa Ferrell of Michigan State (138), Lauren Kim of Stanford (138) and Doris Chen of Southern California (139).
With a one-over-par, 71, Wednesday, freshman Sandy Choi will enter the third round tied 14th with a 143. Choi, who is out of San Diego, Calif., hit 11 greens, eight fairways and had 30 putts on the day. After opening her round with a bogey on No. 1, Choi played the next 12 holes at two-under-par. She drained back-to-back birdies on No. 8 and No. 9. Choi suffered two consecutive bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes to drop to one-over-par. She then drained a key par putt on No. 16, got up-and-down on the 17th for par and two-putted for par on No. 18 to finish with a 71.
“My round was pretty satisfying today,” said Choi. “I ended up with a better score than yesterday. I didn’t hit that many fairways or greens today, but I was able to score well because of my putting. I started off with a bogie, so I told myself to stay patient and keep making birdies. The two birdies felt good. I was able to have some confidence going into the back nine. On No. 8, I stuck my wood pretty close to the pin. On No. 9, I hit a really hard putt, but it went into the hole.”
Senior Laetitia Beck produced a front nine that included two birdies, two double-bogeys and five pars. The double-bogeys came when she hit her drive on No. 3 out of bounds and her hit her tee shot on No. 6 into the hazard. Beck, a native of Caesarea, Israel, came back from the double-bogeys to birdie each of the next holes and made the turn with a two-over-par, 37. She played the back nine at even-par with a bogey on No. 11, while draining a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to finish her round with a two-over, 72. Beck hit 12 greens, 11 fairways and had 31 putts on the day. She will enter the third round tied 43rd.
Turning in a two-over-par, 72, Wednesday was senior Alejandra Cangrejo as she posted a team best 29 putts. A product of Bogota, Colombia, Cangrejo opened her day with two pars and then had two straight bogeys to fall to two-over-par. She would end up playing the final 14 holes at even par with birdies on No. 6 and No. 13. Cangrejo added a key up-and-down on No. 16 as she hit eight fairways and nine greens. She is tied 67th overall with a 151.
Rookie Yu Liu added a 76 in round two and is tied 67th on the individual leaderboard with a 151. Liu, who is from Beijing, China, opened her round with a par, bogey and for the second straight day was on the par five third green in two and finished with a tap-in birdie. The ACC Freshman of the Year played the next six holes at two-over-par, which included a double-bogey on No. 6. Liu closed the day at four-over on the back to finish the round at six-over-par.
Duke will tee off in the third round beginning at 12:55 p.m., along with Oklahoma and Arizona State off hole No. 1.
“One thing you have at nationals is a lot of time before you tee off, because there are a lot of teams in this tournament,” said Brooks. “We have a lot of time to wait tomorrow. I might talk a little bit about making sure you stay hydrated and relaxed because you have time. Other than that, I’m not sure there is any formula for four days vs. three. Just stay patient and stay rested. They know how to do this. They’re a lot better at it than I am.”
• Duke won its first NCAA Championship at the Tulsa Country Club in 1999 and has gone on to win a total of five titles (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007).
• Celine Boutier turned in a birdie on No. 1 to open her round. In the first round, there were only three birdies all day on the 393-yard, par four.
• Alejandra Cangrejo drained a birdie on the 161-yard, par three sixth hole. Monday featured only eight birdies and 34 double-bogeys or worse. In the second round, ???
• The Blue Devils had eight birdies over their first nine holes and three on the final nine.
• Celine Boutier totaled her team-best 18th round of even or under par this season. She is now tied sixth on Duke’s single-season charts.
• Duke will enter the third round in the top three at the NCAA Championship for the second straight year.
• Celine Boutier owns even or under par ledgers in four of six career rounds in NCAA Championship action.