Category Archives: Women’s Golf

Blumenherst Captures U.S. Women’s Amateur

What a difference one year makes.

Duke rising senior Amanda Blumenherst, the three-time defending National Player of the Year, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., Sunday, one year after losing on the event’s final hole last year. This time around, Blumenherst stormed back on the last nine holes of the 36-hole championship, taking her first lead over Spain’s Azahara Munoz on the 31st hole and playing beautiful golf down the stretch to redeem her tough 2007 defeat with a 2-and-1 final.

With the win, Blumenherst became the sixth player to take the amateur crown a year after losing in the final. She also became the first college golfer to win since former Duke star Virada Nirapathpongporn in 2003.

The USGA chronicled Sunday’s 36 holes with an informative and telling live blog, which provides hole-by-hole coverage. And for those regular readers and visitors interested in some background reading on Blumenherst, here are some links to selected stories from The Chronicle:

  • PARRING WITH THE CHAMP: What happens when a Chronicle reporter plays nine holes with Blumenherst.
  • BLUMENHERST TAKES NPOY: Blumenherst won her third consecutive National Player of the Year award this year.
  • TARGET PRACTICE: How it feels for Blumenherst and the Blue Devils to play with a constant target on their backs.
  • HISTORY DENIED:The Chronicle live-blogged this year’s NCAA Championship, when Duke came up short in its historic quest for four consecutive national championships.

–by Ben Cohen

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Three Blue Devils Tee Off In Curtis Cup

Duke’s season may be over, but seniors Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee and incoming freshman Mina Harigae hit the links once more this morning on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland for the Curtis Cup. The tournament is held every two years and pits female American amateur golfers against their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland.

The teams competed in foursomes, where two golfers match up against two other golfers in alternate-shot format, with each side playing just one ball. Blumenherst was paired with UCLA’s Tiffany Joh-the individual runner-up at last week’s national championships-and Lee and Harigae partnered up.

Blumenherst and Joh took an early lead, winning four consecutive holes to take a 5-up lead after 12 holes, but Breanna Loucks and Florentyna Parker mounted a furious comeback to pull within one heading into the final hole. Both teams had birdie putts on the 18th, but Joh and Parker both missed to give the US the narrow victory.

Lee and Marigae found themselves in the opposite situation, as they were forced to stage a rally of thier own after being four down after ten holes. Though they also pulled to within one down entering the final hole, Marigae missed her birdie putt that would have given the Americans a split victory.

The USA currently leads 2-1 with Arkansas’ Stacy Lewis and recent Arizona graduate Alison Walshe combining for the other foursome victory.

–by Sabreena Merchant

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Blumenherst Nabs National Player of the Year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Blue Devils made their run, and though the four-peat eluded them, Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst made history of her own by capturing her third consecutive National Player of the Year award.

“It’s so exciting,” she said. “It was my goal. I did it two years in a row and no one’s done it three, probably because everyone goes pro. But it was my goal to do it three times in a row….It was great that I was able to capitalize on it.”

Nevertheless, it looked like Blumenherst might have lost to Arkansas’ Stacy Lewis early on. The Blue Devil struggled early, finishing 1-over after her front nine, including a double bogey on her ninth hole, number 18, that put her four strokes back of Lewis heading into the turn.

But from then on, Blumenherst caught fire.

Starting with a birdie on hole one, she put together a ridiculous final stretch that included two more birdies and an eagle on the second-to-last hole. On that hole, she hit a gap wedge 103 yards and the ball rolled back about eight feet into the hole. The eagle on her scorecard put her at 4-under for the day.

“That double [bogey] is most probably the best thing that happened,” Blumenherst said. “It got me angry and I was just ready to tear up the backside….On number one, I knew I was going to make birdie before I even teed up.”

The back nine vaulted Blumenherst from a tie for fourteenth to a tie for fifth, extending her streak of top-10 finishes to 32. She also finished within the top-5 in every tournament this season and her score average of 71.0 ties the Duke record she set last year.

Although Blumenherst was understandably disappointed with the team result, her excitement over her third straight player of the year crown helped to temper the letdown. And the three-time champion is already looking ahead so she can make it four in a row next year.

“It’s great that I set one record but I’m going to try to make it really hard to beat.”

by Sabreena Merchant

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LIVE BLOG: Women’s Golf NCAA Championship

HISTORY DENIED (9:50 p.m. EST) — Duke had to go low on the last day of the NCAA Championship to win. That’s exactly what the Blue Devils did, shooting a round-best 7-under, but it wasn’t enough to capture an unprecedented fourth consecutive title. Amanda Blumenherst finished 4-under, carding three birdies and an eagle in her last nine holes, to move into a tie for fifth overall. After starting 4-under through three holes, Jennie Lee finished 3-under, highlighted by her early hole-in-one. The Blue Devils will finish third at 28-over, 12 strokes behind USC. We’ll have more later tonight.

NOT IN THE CARDS? (7:54 p.m. EST) — Duke’s still 22 shots behind USC on the back nine. It’s the Blue Devils’ best day on the links, but subpar rounds on the first three days and weather stoppages look like they’re going to prevent Duke from an unprecedented fourth national title. More updates later.

PLAY RESUMES (5:37 p.m. EST) — Just got a call from Sabreena Merchant that play has just resumed at the University of New Mexico Golf Course. We’ll see if Duke can maintain its torrid pace.

NOT SO FAST: LEE, BLUE DEVILS BEGIN ASSAULT — Just when top-seeded Duke seemed out of the mix to capture its fourth-straight national championship, Jennie Lee and the Blue Devils are starting to make their run. Lee, a junior, came out and birdied her first two holes (Nos. 10 and 11) before acing the 12th to start 4-under. Thanks to Lee’s scorching start and a birdie from freshman Kim Donovan, Duke is 5-under on the day, which is best on the course. The defending champs have moved to third place at 30-over, 15 strokes behind USC and nine strokes behind UCLA.

Lightning in Albuquerque, N.M. has stopped play for the third straight day, and our beat reporter, Sabreena Merchant, is stuck on a bus with the rest of reporters on the middle of the course. Once play resumes, we’ll keep you updated and see if the Blue Devils can maintain their hot play and find a way to put the pressure on the leaders.

–by Ben Cohen

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Blumenherst’s NPOY On The Line

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Interesting sidenote to today’s action: Though Duke seems like a longshot to become four-time defending national champions now, junior Amanda Blumenherst’s candidacy as National Player of the Year is still very much on the line.

Blumenherst’s main competition for the honor is Arkansas’ Stacy Lewis. Lewis has won six tournaments this year to Blumenherst’s four, but the Blue Devil has had much stiffer competition in her victories. Currently, Lewis is in seventh at 3-over and Blumenherst is sitting in a tie for 14th at 7-over, so she needs to overtake Lewis today to make her case.

Blumenherst has never finished outside the top 10 in any tournament in her career at Duke–that’s 31 straight–but her streak is on the line today. Look for the junior to make a run to keep both the run and her candidacy alive.

–by Sabreena Merchant

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Weather Slows Blue Devils In Third Round

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On a day when bad weather caused numerous breaks in play, Duke couldn’t seem to catch any breaks of its own.

Trailing USC by 15 strokes after round two, the Blue Devils put together a round of 11-over before play was finally stopped for good late Thursday night. It is currently the fifth-best round of the day, but still leaves Duke far off the lead in its bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive national title.

Junior Jennie Lee–the only Blue Devil to finish 18 holes–had her best round of the tournament, shooting a 1-over with two birdies, but lamented the fact that her rhythm was disrupted by the stoppage of play.

“I started off one hole and I had a birdie and then they called us in,” Lee said. “It was hard for me to have any momentum.”

That theme resonated with the rest of the Blue Devils on Thursday as the golfers all had difficulty finding consistency on the course due to the repeated stoppage of play. After days of above 90-degree heat, Thursday brought rain, lightning, hail, heavy winds and unexpectedly cold temperatures. Any momentum the Blue Devils managed to generate was quickly put to rest by weather intervention.

Junior Amanda Blumenherst also struggled with the layoff, double-bogeying and bogeying her first two holes after play resumed from the initial break for lightning. The two-time defending National Player of the Year has registered just one birdie in this round after knocking in four on Wednesday.

Now trailing co-leaders USC and UCLA by 18 strokes, the Blue Devils’ bid for a place in the record books appears to be nearly impossible.

It’s easy to wonder if the outcome would have been different if the weather hadn’t wreaked so much havoc. On Wednesday, when the Blue Devils resumed their round–while other teams stopped for the day–they promptly fell an additional seven strokes back of the pace. Duke might have been able to apply a lot more pressure on the leaders in the third round had it been allowed to continue its second round Thursday.

–by Sabreena Merchant

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Blue Devils Still In 15th After Day 2

Two days into the final leg of its quest for an unprecedented fourth national championship, top-seeded Duke finished Wednesday in 12th place, 15 strokes behind co-leaders USC and UCLA at the University of New Mexico Golf Course in Albuquerque, N.M. The Blue Devils were in 18th place after Tuesday, also 15 strokes off the pace.

On Wednesday, though, Duke had to deal with more than simply making golf shots. The weather wreaked havoc all day, causing two suspensions and eventually ending play early. Wind gusts exceeded 60 m.p.h. and the Blue Devils’ round lasted more than eight hours. After the first break due to high winds, Duke went into the clubhouse 16-over. Five holes later, the Blue Devils had finished the day 23-over.

“I know it is kind of the luck of the draw, but yesterday it got windy at the end and we played through it, but it wasn’t nearly like this,” said Amanda Blumenherst, who shot a 1-under to bring her two-day score to 1-over. “Those afternoon groups didn’t have to have a little break in their round and they also now might not even have to finish in this and play in calmer conditions tomorrow, where there isn’t anything you can do about it. It really isn’t fair.”

Blumenherst, in particular, was affected by the high winds. She bogeyed two of her last five holes after the break to drop to 1-over.

The Blue Devils hit the links again tomorrow, with only 36 holes to make up the necessary ground to capture their fourth straight title. We’ll have a reporter in Albuquerque keeping you up-to-date with live reports and analysis, so make sure to follow along!

by Ben Cohen

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