FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In a total team effort, the Duke women’s golf program won its seventh NCAA Championship as the Blue Devils came-from-behind to take down Wake Forest, 3-2, at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., Wednesday afternoon.
Duke head coach Dan Brooks brought home his 136th all-time victory and seventh NCAA Championship since 1999. It marked his first team title since 2014 and the first since the event moved to match play in 2015. The NCAA Championship is the 17th overall in Duke Athletics history.
Needing to win two matches Wednesday to secure the title, the Blue Devils opened the day with a 3-2 win over Arizona and then needed extra holes once again to take down fellow ACC foe Wake Forest.
The Blue Devils had only approximately and hour and a half rest between the Arizona match and Wake Forest contest.
Wake Forest came out strong and took the early lead in four of the five matches on the front nine. The match went back and forth all day and Duke found itself down, 4-1, at one point on the back nine, but mounted a comeback.
Junior Ana Belac was eventually able to put the first point on the board as she downed Vanessa Knecht, 5&3, to give Duke a 1-0 lead. Belac, who is from Portoroz, Slovenia, moved to 3-0 in match play over the last two days. She trailed by one through eight holes, but won holes No. 9, No. 10 and No. 11 to gain control of the match. Belac eventually won holes 13-15 and led 5UP. She closed the match on No. 15 and went to cheer on her teammates.
After winning a thrilling match earlier in the morning, freshman Gina Kim wasn’t able to replicate it in the afternoon as she dropped a 1UP decision to ACC Individual Champion Emilia Migliaccio. Kim, a native of Chapel Hill, N.C., led 1UP through five holes, but that would be the only hole she would lead. She was able to send the match back to all square with a par on 17, but Migliaccio stuck her approach and sank the birdie on No. 18 to win, 1UP.
With a 1-1 ledger, sophomore Jaravee Boonchant was faced with a tough task against the No. 1 ranked amateur golfer in the world, Jennifer Kupcho. After falling down early, Boonchant returned the match to all square after No. 4. The match would be tied in 13 of the 19 holes and the Duke two-time All-America wouldn’t take her first lead until the 157-yard, par three 17th.
Boonchant, a native of Bangkok, Thailand, sank a 15-footer for birdie to take a 1UP lead on No. 17, but suffered a bogey on No. 18 to send the match to extra holes. The lead for Boonchant gave Kupcho her first deficit of 2019 match play. The duo went back to the 411-yard, par four first hole and Boonchant was able to two-putt for par to give Duke a 2-1 lead, after Kupcho made bogey.
For the second time over the last two days, senior Virginia Elena Carta had her match go to extra holes. Carta, who is from Udine, Italy, led for eight of the first 10 holes, but Siyun Liu took her first lead after a birdie on No. 14. The match went back to all square after 16 and stayed that way until the 20th hole when Liu birdied to win in 20 holes. Carta dropped to 4-1-1 in NCAA Championship match play over her career.
After opening her collegiate career with the 2016 NCAA Individual Championship, Carta closed her time at Duke with a NCAA team title. She became the fourth Blue Devil to win both a NCAA team and individual championship – Candy Hannemann, Virada Nirapathpongporn and Anna Grzebien.
With the match knotted at 2-2, it all came down to sophomore Miranda Wang, who was seeing action in her first NCAA Championship this week. A product of Beijing, China, Wang had dropped her first two matches against Arizona and Stanford, but put up a good fight in those previous contests.
Letizia Bagnoli of Wake Forest led for the first 14 holes by as many as 2UP, but Wang never quit. Wang birdied the par five 15th to tie the match and it would end up going to extra holes. Even though Wang didn’t hit the green on her approach, she made a great up-and-down for par, while Bagnoli missed a birdie putt, to extend the match to the par five 15th. Wang blasted a perfect drive on the right of the fairway, while Bagnoli hit her drive behind the tree in the middle of the fairway.
Bagnoli decided to go for the green and hooked her approach into the river on the left side of the fairway leaving an opening for Wang. After seeing Bagnoli’s shot, Wang calmly hit her approach onto the back right of the green in two. Bagnoli took some time to figure out where she could hit from and eventually dropped. She ended up hitting her next shot short of the green and then stuck a shot a few feet from the cup.
Wang would have a three shot cushion to win the National Championship for the Blue Devils. After her chip went just past the pin, Wang would two-putt for the win and give Duke its seventh championship.
Duke has won NCAA Championships in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2019.
Over the three matches, all five Duke golfers won at least one match.
Duke 3, Wake Forest 2 (Championship)
Siyun Liu def. Virginia Elena Carta – 20 holes
Jaravee Boonchant def. Jennifer Kupcho – 19 holes
Miranda Wang def. Letizia Bagnoli – 19 holes
Emilia Migliaccio def. Gina Kim – 1UP
Ana Belac def. Vanessa Knecht -5&3
Duke 3, Arizona 2 (Semifinals)
Virginia Elena Carta def. Sandra Nordaas – 2&1
Haley Moore def. Jaravee Boonchant – 4&3
Yu-Sang Hou def. Miranda Wang – 4&3
Ana Belac def. Ya Chun Chang – 2&1
Gina Kim def. Bianca Pagdanganan – 1UP
Duke Golfers in Match Play in College
Virginia Elena Carta (7-5-1)
2015 East Lake Cup (1-1)
2016 Liz Murphey (2-1)
2016 NCAA Championship (2-0)
2017 Northwestern (0-2)
2018 NCAA Championship (0-0-1)
2019 NCAA Championship (2-1-0)
Ana Belac (5-3-1)
2016 East Lake Cup (1-1)
2017 Northwestern (1-1)
2017 Northwestern Quad (0-0-1)
2018 NCAA Championship (0-1)
2019 NCAA Championship (3-0)
Jaravee Boonchant (1-3)
2018 NCAA Championship (0-1)
2019 NCAA Championship (1-2)
Miranda Wang (1-2)
2019 NCAA Championship (1-2)
Gina Kim (2-1)
2019 NCAA Championship (2-1)