Freshman Leona Maguire leads Duke to second regional title in three years
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- For the ninth time in school history and the second time during the past three years, Duke claimed a NCAA regional championship as the Blue Devils swept both the team and individual titles at the South Bend Regional on Saturday, played at the 6,301-yard, par-72 Warren Golf Course.
The Blue Devils now advance to the NCAA championship for the 27th time in school history and the 20th time out of the past 21 years. The 2015 NCAA championship will take place from May 22-27 at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.
“It feels great to win this late in the season,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks said. “Now we can turn our focus to nationals."
Duke freshman Leona Maguire claimed the NCAA South Regional individual title with a 54-hole ledger of four-under-par 212, becoming just the fifth Blue Devil, and third as a freshman, to win a regional title.
“It is great,” said Maguire on the victory. “To get another win is a bonus and obviously to get the team win was big today. We have been really working towards regionals and nationals all year so it is really nice the whole team came together at this time and got the win.”
As a team, Duke carded rounds of 288, 289 and 296 for a three-day ledger of nine-over-par, 873. The Blue Devils won by three strokes over Wake Forest (876), while UC Davis (884), Arizona (886), Tulane (888) and Purdue (888) were the other teams advancing to the NCAA championship. Rounding out the top 10 were Kentucky (892), Notre Dame (894), Kent State (896) and Harvard (899). The teams dealt with much different conditions Saturday as it was wet from overnight rainfall and it rained off and on during the entire final round.
Duke held the team lead over Purdue for most of the final round, but the Blue Devils dropped six shots on holes Nos. 7 and 8 to move back into the pack along with the Boilermakers and Wake Forest. Heading into the final three holes, the Demon Deacons evened the score, but Duke played those holes at one-under and Wake Forest was one-over-par.
The victory was the third of the season for the Blue Devils and marks the 122nd career win for Brooks during his 31 years as a head coach.
Maguire won her second consecutive tournament and became the third Blue Devil to win both the ACC Championship and NCAA regional in back-to-back tournaments. Maguire trailed Duke junior Celine Boutier by one stroke heading into the final round and ended up with a one-stroke victory as Boutier carded a final-round 74 and finished with a three-under-par 213.
The second-place finish is the highest placement of the season for the 2014 National Player of the Year. In the final round, Boutier had chances for birdies, but couldn’t get the putts to drop until No. 18 when she hit her pitching wedge from 107 yards to four feet for birdie.
Sophomore Sandy Choi collected her second consecutive top-20 finish at a NCAA regional as she placed tied 14th with rounds of 73, 73 and 74 for a four-over 220. For the day, Choi hit 13 greens, 11 fairways and had 33 putts.
Duke’s best golfer on the course during the final 11 holes Saturday, Lisa Maguire was one-under-par over those holes as she went on to place tied 76th with a 234. Maguire, who hails from Cavan, Ireland, collected a birdie on No.14 as she drained a 10-footer. She totaled four up-and-downs during her final 11 holes of action.
Duke is the reigning NCAA champions and has won a total of six NCAA titles since 1999 (2002, '05, '06, '07 and '14).
Other regional results:
-Baylor overtakes Tennessee to capture San Antonio Regional crown
-South Carolina wins regional, heads to sixth NCAA championship in a row
-Southern California shoots 26-over, cruises to victory at St. George Regional