By HEATHER ANGELL
Atlantic Coast Conference women’s golf power Duke, without a league title since 2008, was able to recapture its conference dominance in April.
Coming off a loss in a playoff the week before at the Bryan National Collegiate, the Blue Devils led wire-to-wire to beat defending champion North Carolina by 10 shots at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.
“It is a little taste of the 10 or 11 years where we were really successful. This is a different day. We are not ranked like we were then and there is more parity in women’s golf now,” said Duke coach Dan Brooks.
Duke started the tournament off hot with a 4-under par 280, an ACC Championship low since the tournament moved to Sedgefield four years ago. The Tar Heels closed the gap by one stroke in the second round, but the Blue Devils, behind the medalist performance of Lindy Duncan (70-69-71), won going away.
Duncan held off fellow teammate, Alejandra Cangrejo, Wake Forest’s Olafia Kristinsdottir and Florida State’s Maria Salinas for a six-shot victory for the individual title, her fourth of the season. North Carolina’s Casey Grice rounded out the top five.
Properly judging the gusty, swirling winds and hitting greens produced the lowest scores. Duncan, two-time ACC Player of the Year, did just that.
“I was really on fire this week putting,” she said. “I was really solid on the fast and firm greens.”
Duke also received solid performances from sophomore Laetitia Beck, junior Stacey Kim and junior Courtney Ellenbogen. Beck and Kim opened the tournament with a 71 and 70 respectively, finishing in ninth and a tie for 19th. Ellenbogen finished tied for 36th.
North Carolina did not let the excitement of being defending champions cause them to lose focus.
“The team was not nervous at all. They worked hard, played well and were up for the challenge again this year,” said North Carolina coach Jan Mann.
A pep talk from Tar Heel basketball coach Roy Williams helped as well. “As much as he loves golf he was excited to meet with the team,” Mann said.
Along with Grice’s highest individual finish of the season, North Carolina senior Allie White and sophomore Katherine Perry of Cary started the tournament strong with a pair of 71s and finished in sixth place and 10th. Senior Catherine O’Donnell (T-14) and sophomore Jackie Chang (T-40) rounded out the North Carolina scoring.
Perry felt the tournament prepared the team for the upcoming NCAA tournament.
“We just need to stay mentally tough and know we can do it,” Perry said. “We have the ability to be National Champions.”
NC State, with three team titles this year, struggled to finish sixth out of nine teams.
The Wolfpack rallied with the fourth-lowest score on the final day, with top team finisher, Brittany Marchand, finishing in a tie for 14th. Other Wolfpack golfers included Ana Menendez (T-17), Augusta James (T-22), Amanda Baker rallying with the low Wolfpack score of the final round (73), and Vivian Tsui (35th).