TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the 26th time in school history and the 19th out of the last 20 years, the Duke women’s golf team will participate in the NCAA Championship, after the top-seeded and third-ranked Blue Devils placed tied third at the NCAA East Regional at the 6,257-yard, par 72 SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Blue Devils turned in their second straight round of even-par,288, Saturday on the final day to conclude the 54-hole tournament with an 860. Vanderbilt closed out its wire-to-wire victory with a 14-under-par, 274, Saturday on its way to finishing with a 24-under-par, 840. South Carolina (854), Duke (860), NC State (860), Stanford (866), Virginia (869), Tulane (871) and Campbell (879) were the remaining teams advancing to the championship.
“The wind kicked up again and made it interesting,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “We didn’t play all that great coming in. We had some good things going in the early part of the round and just faltered a little bit toward the end. We are on our way to nationals and that is what matters.”
The NCAA Championship will take place May 20-23 at the Tulsa Golf & Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. The Blue Devils will head back to Tulsa for the first time since Duke won the NCAA Championship back in 1999,which was the first of five NCAA titles.
“It is in my mind a little bit, but mostly we are just going to go play a national championship,” commented Brooks about heading back to Tulsa. “It doesn’t really connect to something that happened 14 years ago. They have renovated the course so it is very different than the one we played on. We are very excited to get out there. We need to put a good week of work in and we will be ready to go.”
Duke was paced throughout the three days of completion by freshman Sandy Choi, who carded a career-best 54-hole total of 212, which tied seventh. She notched rounds of 72, 68 and 72, which doubled her season total of even or under par rounds. Choi notched her second straight top 10 finish as she placed fourth overall in the ACC Championship.
On Saturday, Choi held a two-under-par ledger with two holes remaining, but suffered back-to-back bogeys to finish with a 72. A native of San Diego, Calif., Choi collected birdies on No. 7, No. 11 and No. 16 on the day as she hit 16 greens, 14 fairways and had 34 putts.
Vanderbilt’s Jenny Hahn collected the individual title with a nine-under-par, 207, as she turned in a six-under-par, 66, in the final round.
Entering the final day tied second overall, sophomore Celine Boutier couldn’t get it going in Saturday’s final round as she turned in a five-over-par, 77. It was a tournament where she just couldn’t get putts to drop as she tied 24th with a 217. Boutier, who is from Montrouge, France, had a rough start to her day with a double-bogey on the opening par five first hole that she had birdied each of the first two days. She had a three-putt bogey on No. 3 and never could get it clicking on the final day. She hit 12 fairways, 10 greens and had 33 putts Saturday.
Turning in Duke’s best round of the day was senior Alejandra Cangrejo with a two-under-par, 70. Cangrejo, a native of Bogota, Colombia, finished the weekend tied 24th with a 217. She had a hot start to the day with birdies on No. 2, No. 3 and No. 7 on her way to making the turn at three-under-par. Cangrejo nearly posted a hole-in-one on the 156-yard, par three third hole as it lay to rest a foot from the cup. She collected birdies on No. 10 and No. 18 to close the day, while chipping in for par on No. 11. For the round, Cangrejo hit 15 greens, 10 fairways and had a team-best 28 putts.
“I was particularly happy for Aleja,” said Brooks. “She had started to falter towards the end of some rounds, but she was able to birdie that last hole with three great shots – her two nice shots coming in and a nice putt there. She showed a lot of poise."
Senior Laetitia Beck closed her final regional with rounds of 75, 72 and 75 for a 222 ledger, which tied 47th. The Caesarea, Israel product opened the day with three birdies over her first four holes and was three-under through six holes, but couldn’t hang on playing her final 12 holes at six-over-par. She hit 12 greens, 11 fairways and had 34 putts in the final round.
A day after shooting the worst round of her collegiate career, freshman Yu Liu turned in a one-under-par, 71, with five birdies. Liu, who is from Beijing, China, held a four-under-par score through 14 holes, but dropped three shots over her final four holes. She featured four three-putts on the day as she finished with a total of 34 putts, while hitting 15 greens and nine fairways. Liu placed tied 89th with a 228, which snapped a streak of finishing in the top 10 of her first eight collegiate tournaments.
Notes: • With her 16 rounds of even or under par this season, Celine Boutier ranks tied ninth on Duke’s single-season charts. • Sandy Choi’s 54-hole total of 212 ranks as the tied for seventh best 54-hole total by a freshman in Blue Devil history. • Duke totaled 19 birdies in the final round and played the par fives at only 2-under-par. • Celine Boutier had her three-tournament win streak come to an end. • The Blue Devils featured a second place finish at the 2013 NCAA Championship and owns NCAA titles in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.