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
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
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
Chasing an unprecedented fourth straight national title, top-ranked Duke sits in 18th place, 15 strokes behind Southern California at the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.
All five Blue Devils in competition put in lackluster rounds Tuesday, the first of four days to determine the national championship. Two-time defending National Player of the Year and top-seeded golfer Amanda Blumenherst fired a 3-over 75, with two birdies, three bogeys and a double. She trails senior Jennifer Pandolfi (1-over) and junior Jennie Lee (2-over) on Duke. Freshman Kim Donovan shot a 5-over, and junior Alison Whitaker, one of the team’s strongest golfers, needs to recover from a round of 10-over in which she shot eight bogeys, a double and a triple.
Last year, Duke sat in fifth place after the first day of competition in the NCAA Championship before taking first place in day two and holding it the rest of the way. In 2006, the Blue Devils were also tied for fifth after the first day before eventually stealing the lead on the third day.
We’ll keep you updated of Duke’s progress to make it a four-peat tomorrow, and our women’s golf beat reporter will be at the University of New Mexico Golf Course Thursday and Friday to bring you live coverage.
-by Ben Cohen