Duncan leading Duke charge in ACC women’s golf

BY JOHN DELL

After owning the ACC Women’s Golf Championships for more than a decade, the Duke Blue Devils had a three-year lull.

That all changed last spring when the Blue Devils won their 17th ACC title and 16th under coach Dan Brooks at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.

Brooks wouldn’t say that it was a relief, but the Blue Devils did re-establish their dominance with a 10-shot victory.

Don’t be surprised if Duke does it again this April.

“Absolutely it was a big win there at Sedgefield,” Brooks said. “I love Sedgefield. You know that if you play well there you can play well anywhere because it’s such a difficult course.”

Brooks, who is in his 29th season, has won five NCAA championships and 113 team titles, the most by any women’s coach in NCAA history.

Leading Duke’s bid to repeat at the ACC Championships April 19-21 in Greensboro will be senior Lindy Duncan, who will try to defend her individual title as well.

Duncan, who shot 70-69-71 last year, says the memory of winning both the team and individual titles is still vivid.

“Sedgefield is a great course and you have to stay patient and your game has to be on to do well there,” Duncan said.

Duncan said that since her freshman season the Blue Devils struggled at key times, but last spring everything clicked.

“We won two tournaments last year and it was great to win the ACC again. That should be a huge confidence boost for us,” Duncan said. “It was important for us to get over that hump and win the ACC again.”

Duncan, who was also the ACC women’s golf scholar athlete of the year, said her four years has gone by very fast.

“I’m looking forward to this final spring of competing,” she said. “I think we can repeat in the ACC because we have a lot of talent on our team.”

Brooks has one of his deepest teams in years. What has helped has been the impact of freshmen Celine Boutier, who is from France, and walk-on Yi Xiao of China. Brooks said both had excellent starts to their college careers this past fall.

Brooks will also count on junior Laetitia Beck and expects Duncan to play very well.

“Lindy’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had,” Brooks said.

Coach Jan Mann of the North Carolina Tar Heels, who is in her fourth season, has two seniors and three juniors on her roster which includes Katherine Perry, a junior from Cary and a graduate of Athens Drive.

The Tar Heels won two tournaments in the fall (The Liz Murphey Fall Preview and the Tar Heel Invitational) and hope to carry over that momentum to the spring.

Also expected to be among the starters for the Tar Heels are juniors Casey Grice and Jackie Chang, along with freshman Elizabeth Mallett and sophomore Maia Schechter.

At N.C. State, Page Marsh is in her 13th season and her team will be led Amanda Baker, the lone senior on the roster. Also, sophomore Augusta James, who was the ACC Freshman of the year last season, should be one of the league’s top players.

Wake Forest lost four-year starter Cheyenne Woods, who was the ACC individual champion two years ago at Sedgefield. Coach Dianne Dailey will count on junior Olafia Kristinsottir as well as sophomores Marissa Dodd, Emily Wright and Allison Emrey, along with freshman Mariana Sims.

During the fall, five of the nine ACC schools – Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, N.C. State and Wake Forest – were ranked in the top 50 in Golfweek’s rankings.

“Carolina has been playing very well and Florida State is coming on and you have to throw Virginia in there as well,” Brooks said. “You have to be on your game in our conference if you want to win it, especially at a course like Sedgefield.”

Dailey says the ACC has much more parity than in past years.

“I think the top three are definitely Duke, Carolina and Virginia and all three will be right up there,” Dailey said. “The ACC is just looking stronger and stronger … and that’s what makes it exciting.”

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