Duke shoots 12-under-par in final round to clinch Central Regional crown
NORMAN, Okla. -- For the eighth time in school history and the first time since the 2007 campaign, Duke claimed an NCAA Regional championship. The Blue Devils carded a final-round 12-under-par 276 to win the Central Regional by six strokes at the 6,298-yard, par-72 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
“It feels great,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “Particularly with the way we came in. Alejandra [Cangrejo] sticks it on the 18th hole, Courtney [Ellenbogen] comes in at five-under. She has been out of the lineup most of the year. It is great to have her doing that. She is getting on a plane and flying to graduation right now. So she got to send herself into the ceremony feeling very good. I am super happy.”
Duke registered a 54-hole total of 851 with rounds of 284, 291 and 276 to overtake host Oklahoma (857). The Sooners held a six-stroke lead heading into the final round, but Oklahoma shot even-par (288) to Duke’s 12-under-par (276) on the final day. The Blue Devils carded a season-best three-day total of 851, which was the second-lowest regional output in school history. The 12-under-par 276 was the second-lowest 18-hole total in school history on a par-72 course.
“Every season is a different thing and we just keep going after it,” Brooks said. “It took us a while to get a win this year. A lot of times you are doing great things but not quite winning. This spring we had a lot of thirds, runner-ups, but just not quite getting the big trophy. I feel great about this year.”
The Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA championship for the 25th time in school history and the 18th time in the last 19 years. Rounding out the teams advancing the NCAA championship were Oklahoma (857), Mississippi State (872), Florida (877), Arizona State (878), UC Davis (880), Wisconsin (883) and Michigan State (884).
“We talked this morning about just being patient,” Brooks said. “I think Oklahoma is a very good team and I didn’t think they were going to give us a whole lot. If we were going to win this, we needed to just plug along, not try to do spectacular things and just sort of wear them down a little bit. We actually ended up doing more spectacular things than I expected. It was really a great finish.”
Duke got off to a great start on Saturday with five birdies through the first three holes to move into the lead. The Blue Devils and Sooners traded the lead for the next few holes, but by the back nine, Duke took control of the leaderboard and never looked back. Duke registered 20 birdies on the day, led by senior Ellenbogen with a season-high six, Cangrejo with five and Laetitia Beck with five.