OPELIKA, Ala. – After a slow start in the opening round of the NCAA Auburn Regional, the top-seeded Duke women’s golf team closed strong on its way to finishing in second place at the 6,371-yard, par 72 Saugahatchee Country Club in Opelika, Ala.
With 36 holes remaining in regional play, the Blue Devils will need to finish in the top six to advance to the NCAA Championship May 17-22 in Fayetteville, Ark.
As a team, Duke held a six-over-par ledger through the opening nine holes, but closed at four-under on the back nine to shoot two-over, 290, in round one. Vanderbilt, the No. 2 seed in the regional, turned in a one-under, 287, in the first round to take the early lead. The Blue Devils will enter day two only three shots off the lead.
“Yeah, I am real proud of them for coming back,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. “We had a great backside. The greens are challenging. I asked the team about something a little unusual. I asked them how many of them had more than one three-putt. It wasn’t a negative comment at all because I saw three-putts coming from the teams we were paired with. The greens are challenging. They are good greens but there is grain and a lot of undulation. So the key is to be patient and not beat yourself up too bad.”
Florida State (291), East Carolina (291), Tennessee (294), Maryland (294), Virginia (296), Auburn (299) and Furman (299) closed the top nine squads.
The Blue Devils feature four golfers in the top 14 of the individual leaderboard with Ana Belac and Jaravee Boonchant tied for 10th with an even-par, 72, while Miranda Wang and Gina Kim are tied for 14th with a one-over, 73.
Auston Kim of Vanderbilt, Micheala Williams of Tennessee and Virunpat Olankitkunchai of Maryland holds the individual lead after day one with a two-under, 70. Only nine golfers signed for under-par rounds Monday.
Belac opened her day with five bogeys, two birdies and only two pars over her first nine holes as she made the turn at three-over-par. She rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on No. 4 and then had a 12-footer on No. 8.
“That didn’t surprise me,” Brooks said of Belac’s back nine. “She got off a little cold, but that is who Ana is. She has a lot of fight in her.”
A native of Portoroz, Slovenia, Belac then struck fire draining a 20-foot birdie on the 535-yard, par five 10th and then sank a 15-foot birdie on No. 11 to get back to one-over-par. After two pars, Belac rolled in her fifth birdie of the day on the 350-yard, par four 14th with a 15-footer. She closed the afternoon with four pars to finish with a 72. Belac carded a team-best 29 putts, while hitting 13 greens and 11 fairways.
“I had a really slow start this morning and it took me quite a while to get the momentum going, but once I started hitting better shots and started getting more consistent the putts started rolling in so that kind of kept me going on the back nine,” said Belac.
In seven career NCAA regional rounds, Belac has posted even or under par scores in five of them.
“It definitely helps,” added Belac on Duke playing the course earlier this season. “The course is quite challenging with real challenging greens. You want to know where on the green you want to be with your approach shot. There also are some tricky bounces that can happen on the fairway. Just knowing where the runouts are that might not seem so obvious off the tee. It was really useful to having played the tournament before here.”
Boonchant, who hails from Bangkok, Thailand, notched five straight pars to kick off her round, before suffering a bogey on No. 6. On the 460-yard, par five eight, Boonchant hit her 50-degree wedge from 90 yards to within four feet and sank the putt for her first birdie of the day to get back to even. She added a second straight birdie on the 388-yard, par four ninth as she rolled in a 21-foot birdie on the challenging hole.
After making the turn at one-under, Boonchant parred No. 10 and then had a bogey on No. 11, following missing the green. She would go on to par the final seven holes of the day to finish with a 72. Boonchant hit 13 greens, 10 fairways and had 31 putts on the day.
Seeing the first NCAA action of her career, Wang opened with a three-putt bogey on hole one, but settled down to notch a par and then Duke’s first birdie of the day on the 388-yard, par four third hole. She was able to sink a 12-footer for birdie to get back to even. Over the next 10 holes, she would card seven pars and three bogeys to move to three-over for the day.
Wang, a product of Beijing, China, would turn it around on the 350-yard, par four 14th as she drained a 21-footer for birdie. She then chipped in from 15 yards with a 58-degree wedge on the par five 15th for her second straight birdie. After a par on No. 16, Wang rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to get to even par. She closed with a three-putt bogey on No. 18 to finish with a 73. She hit a team-best 16 greens, while rolling 35 putts and hitting 11 fairways.
“I think what Miranda is learning is to stay calm, be patient and be happy out here,” commented Brooks. “Just trust her game. She has such a beautiful golf swing and when she trusts it she is something else. Really good.”
Kim also opened her day with a bogey on No. 1, but settled down to card six straight pars. After bogeying No. 8, she made the turn at two-over, 38. On the 356-yard, par four 12th, Kim hit her 9-iron from 124 yards to six feet and drained the right to left putt for her first birdie of the regional. She had a bogey on No. 14 and then collected her second birdie on No. 16 as she hit her 8-iron from 144 yards to three feet and sank the putt. Kim, a freshman from Chapel Hill, N.C., played her final 17 holes at even par and did not miss a green over her final 10. She hit 14 greens, nine fairways and had 33 putts on the day.
Senior Virginia Elena Carta was held without a birdie over 18 holes Monday, while signing for a three-over, 75. She had two bogeys on the front nine, while notching a key sand save for par on No. 2. On the back, Carta registered eight pars and a bogey. Her 15 pars ranked tied for fourth among golfers during round one. Carta, who is from Udine, Italy, closed her day hitting 15 straight greens. She rolled 37 putts in round one and hit 13 fairways.
Duke will tee off Tuesday in round two beginning at 10:50 a.m. (ET) off hole No. 1 along with Florida State and Vanderbilt.
“Obviously, it is a good starting point so we don’t have to play catchup over the next two days,” commented Belac on the team start. “But I think it is going to take a lot of patience to stay here and maybe climb up a little higher.”
1 Team Scores
1 Vanderbilt 287 -1
2 Duke 290 +2
T3 Florida State 291 +3
T3 East Carolina 291 +3
T5 Tennessee 294 +6
T5 Maryland 294 +6
7 Virginia 296 +8
T8 Auburn 299 +11
T8 Furman 299 +11
10 Alabama 300 +12
T11 Denver 304 +16
T11 California 304 +16
13 Houston 306 +18
14 Clemson 307 +19
15 Kennesaw State 308 +20
16 University at Albany 309 +21
17 South Alabama 310 +22
18 Murray State 312 +24
Start Finish Player Team Scores
- T1 Auston Kim Vanderbilt 70 -2
- T1 Micheala Williams Tennessee 70 -2
- T1 Virunpat Olankitkunchai Maryland 70 -2
- T4 Amanda Doherty Florida State 71 -1
- T4 Courtney Zeng Vanderbilt 71 -1
- T4 Beatrice Wallin Florida State 71 -1
- T4 Anna Redding Virginia 71 -1
- T4 Mariah Smith Tennessee 71 -1
- T4 Siranon Shoomee East Carolina 71 -1
- T10 Jaravee Boonchant Duke 72 E
- T10 Ana Belac Duke 72 E
- T10 Anne-Charlotte Mora * Texas State 72 E
- T10 Dorthea Forbrigd East Carolina 72 E
- T14 Louise Yu Vanderbilt 73 +1
- T14 Gina Kim Duke 73 +1
- T14 Miranda Wang Duke 73 +1
- T14 Abbey Carlson Vanderbilt 73 +1
- T14 Kenzie Wright Alabama 73 +1
- T14 Laura Van Respaille Maryland 73 +1
- T20 Madison Moosa Furman 74 +2
- T20 Morgan Gonzales Virginia 74 +2
- T20 Natalie Srinivasan Furman 74 +2
- T20 Mychael O'Berry Auburn 74 +2
- T20 Frida Kinhult Florida State 74 +2
- T20 Hannah Screen Houston 74 +2
- T20 Katherine Zhu California 74 +2
- T20 Clara Aveling Kennesaw State 74 +2
- T20 Leonie Harm Houston 74 +2
- T20 Hanley Long * Middle Tennessee 74 +2
- T20 Brigitte Thibault * Fresno State 74 +2
- T20 Trussy Li Denver 74 +2
- T20 Carley Cox East Carolina 74 +2
- T20 Kathryn Carson East Carolina 74 +2
- T34 Elena Hualde Auburn 75 +3
- T34 Amelia Williamson Florida State 75 +3
- T34 Sarah-Eve Rheaume Furman 75 +3
- T34 Brooke Sansom Auburn 75 +3
- T34 Morgan Baxendale Vanderbilt 75 +3
- T34 Kaleigh Telfer Auburn 75 +3
- T34 Virginia Elena Carta Duke 75 +3
- T34 Katharine Patrick Virginia 75 +3
- T34 Puk Lyng Thomsen Florida State 75 +3
- T34 Elena Arias Quiros California 75 +3
- T34 Anna Reid Alabama 75 +3
- T34 Angelica Moresco Alabama 75 +3
- T34 Maria Herraez Galvez California 75 +3
- T34 Alice Hewson Clemson 75 +3
- T34 Xialin Tian Maryland 75 +3
- T34 Mary Weinstein Denver 75 +3
- T34 Linette Holmslykke Murray State 75 +3
- T51 Jacqueline Bendrick Furman 76 +4
- T51 Beth Lillie Virginia 76 +4
- T51 Julie McCarthy Auburn 76 +4
- T51 Roanne Tomlinson Kennesaw State 76 +4
- T51 Ariana Macioce Tennessee 76 +4
- T51 Victoria Huskey * College of Charleston 76 +4
- T51 Ludovica Farina Maryland 76 +4
- T51 Siti Shaari South Alabama 76 +4
- T51 Alyson Bean Denver 76 +4
- T51 Julie Hovland South Alabama 76 +4
- T51 Madison Walker University at Albany 76 +4
- T62 Haylee Harford Furman 77 +5
- T62 Waverly Whiston Tennessee 77 +5
- T62 Alexandra Swayne Clemson 77 +5
- T62 Gracyn Burgess Clemson 77 +5
- T62 Mikayla Bardwell Tennessee 77 +5
- T62 Jiwon Jeon Alabama 77 +5
- T62 Monica San Juan * Chattanooga 77 +5
- T62 Kate Law East Carolina 77 +5
- T62 Helga Einarsdottir University at Albany 77 +5
- T71 Riley Smyth Virginia 78 +6
- T71 Charlotte Charrayre Kennesaw State 78 +6
- T71 Ivy Shepherd Clemson 78 +6
- T71 Maddy Rayner Houston 78 +6
- T71 Sarah McDowell Murray State 78 +6
- T71 Annika Espino University at Albany 78 +6
- T71 Megan Henry University at Albany 78 +6
- T78 Caroline Berge South Alabama 79 +7
- T78 Camille Enright Denver 79 +7
- T78 Anna Moore Murray State 79 +7
- T78 MacKenzie Peyton South Alabama 79 +7
- T82 Chloe Thornton Kennesaw State 80 +8
- T82 Maria Jose Martinez Houston 80 +8
- T82 Ana Paula Valdes Clemson 80 +8
- T82 Cindy Oh California 80 +8
- T82 Raeysha Surendran Murray State 80 +8
- T82 Jane Watts Murray State 80 +8
- T88 Caroline Juillat University at Albany 81 +9
- T88 Elena Verticchio Maryland 81 +9
- T88 Sophie Newlove Denver 81 +9
- T91 Mary Mac Trammell Alabama 82 +10
- T91 Medy Thavong Kennesaw State 82 +10
- T93 Amanda Elich Houston 83 +11
- T93 Leonie Bettel * Kentucky 83 +11
- 95 Marianne Li California 84 +12
- 96 Lexi Worrell South Alabama 92 +20