NORMAN, Okla. – Led by a three-under-par, 69, by junior Alejandra Cangrejo, the top-seeded and third-ranked Duke women’s golf team turned in the second-best round of the day at the NCAA Central Regional and enters the final round in second place at the 6,298-Yard, Par 72 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla.
As a team, Duke fired a three-over-par, 291, on Friday and owns a 36-hole total of 575 with 18 holes remaining. The Blue Devils are only six shots off the team leader and host Oklahoma (569). Rounding out the top 10 is Florida (589), Arizona State (590), Coastal Carolina (590), Texas Tech (591), UC Davis (591), Mississippi State (591), Michigan State (592) and N.C. State (592). The top eight teams following Saturday’s third round will advance to the NCAA Championship in Athens, Ga., from May 21-24.
“Well, I just talked to the team and I wanted to make sure they were proud of themselves,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “I have a lot of respect for Oklahoma and a lot of respect for this golf course. I gained more respect for it today. The wind was really blowing and some of these greens are not very big. We got some tough breaks. It is a course where if you played it in this wind 10 times you would learn a little each time. I am excited about what we are doing.”
Cangrejo, who is out of Bogota, Colombia, registered seven birdies on the day and matched her career-best round of 69 on Friday. She enters the final round tied for third overall and four shots off the individual lead with a two-day total of 141. Oklahoma’s Emily Collins owns a seven-under-par, 137, to hold the lead with Ally McDonald of Mississippi State (138) in second.
“I was just hitting it really well today,” said Cangrejo. “I was sticking it close for birdie and my putting was really well, except for a couple of two-footers that I missed. Other than that, I was really happy with my round today. It was pretty windy and challenging. I hit it well overall.”
Her seven birdies on the day equaled the most in a round by Cangrejo since her freshman campaign. She opened her afternoon with three birdies over her first four holes on No. 10, No. 12 and No. 13, while posting a bogey on No. 11 after hitting the fairway bunker off her drive. Cangrejo was sticking her approach shots tight most of the day as she hit 14 greens.
“That was a great round of golf,” commented Brooks on Cangrejo's play. “You take the bogies out of there and she has a really, really low round. She is learning to come back from bogies. I just told her as a freshman she wasn’t a player that would come back from bogies like that. Now she is racking up the birdies. She is a very talented kid.”
She hit her drive in the trees to the right on the 394-yard, par four 16th and suffered a bogey, but made the turn with a birdie on No. 18 at two-under-par. Cangrejo suffered third bogey on No. 2, but responded with back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth holes as she stuck her approach to three feet on No. 3 and sank a 25-foot putt on No. 4. She registered her final birdie of the afternoon on No. 7 to move to four-under-par, had a three-putt bogey on the 505-yard, par five No. 8 and closed with an up-and-down par on No. 9 to finish off her day. Cangrejo hit 10 fairways and had 29 putts on the day.
“It is really exciting,” commented Cangrejo on being in the hunt for the team title. “Both of my past years, we haven’t been up top in the regional, which is really cool. Especially with this course, you can go low. Five shots are not that much at all. I am really excited to be in this position and will give it my all tomorrow.”
Continuing her stellar play was senior Lindy Duncan as she carded an even-par, 72, and is tied for third overall with a 141. A product of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Duncan kicked off her day with three straight pars before notching back-to-back birdies on No. 13 and No. 14. On the 475-yard, par five 13th, Duncan hit her second shot just short of the green and had a nice chip to within three feet for birdie. She then rolled in a 14-footer for birdie on the next hole.
Duncan went on to suffer bogeys on No. 18, No. 3 and No. 5 to drop to one-over-par. She came back to drain an 18-foot birdie putt on the 158-yard, par three sixth hole to get back to even par. Duncan closed with three straight pars. She hit 16 greens, 10 fairways and had 34 putts on the afternoon.
After turning in a two-under-par, 70, on Thursday, freshman Celine Boutier carded a 75 on day two. She enters the final round tied for 10th with a 145. Boutier opened with six straight pars before hitting her drive on No. 16 to the right into the trees. She went on to suffer a bogey and then had her second straight bogey on No. 17 after not getting it up and down.
A native of Montrouge, France, Boutier made a nice up-and-down save for par on the 298-yard, par four third hole, but had a three-putt bogey on No. 4 and a bogey on No. 5 to drop to four-over-par on the afternoon. After three consecutive pars, Boutier rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt to finish the day with a 75. She had 12 greens, 11 fairways and had 33 putts over her 18 holes.
Over her first nine holes in the second round, senior Courtney Ellenbogen turned in seven pars, one birdie and one bogey as she made the turn at even-par, 36. She sank a five-foot birdie on the 475-yard, par five 13th. Ellenbogen had an eventful final nine with two birdies, two pars and five bogeys on her way to finishing with a 75. She is tied for 30th overall with a 148. Ellenbogen rolled in a four-foot birdie on No. 3 and closed her day by sinking a 25-foot birdie on the 358-yard, par four ninth. She hit 10 greens, nine fairways and had 29 putts on the day.
Junior Laetitia Beck struggled in her opening nine holes on Friday and concluded her day with a 78. Beck, who is from Caesarea, Israel, is tied for 66th with a 152. She totaled pars on the first two holes and then chipped in for birdie on the 149-yard, par three No. 12 to move to one-under-par. Beck went on to have three consecutive bogeys and then suffered a double-bogey on No. 17 to drop to four-over-par. She had seven pars and two bogeys on the final nine holes to close with a six-over-par ledger. Beck hit four fairways, nine greens and had 33 putts.
Duke will tee off on Saturday in the final round starting at 8:36 a.m., along with Oklahoma and Florida.
Notes: • Alejandra Cangrejo’s round of 69 matched the best round of the day. Only two golfers shot 69 on Friday. • Duke is looking to advance to the NCAA Championship for the 25th time in school history and the 18th time out of the last 19 years. • Celine Boutier owns 27 pars over the first two days, which is tied for the second most by the field. • Alejandra Cangrejo owns eight birdies over the two rounds to rank tied second most by the field.