EUGENE, Ore. – Duke has its fourth individual NCAA women’s champion; It’s probably not the Blue Devil that college golf fans may have thought.
While sophomore Leona Maguire has led Duke for the past two years it was Virginia Elena Carta who picked the perfect time to collect her first college victory. The freshman from Italy cruised to an eight-shot victory Monday at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship and notched a 72-hole scoring record in the process.
Carta shot 69-68-66-69 for a 16-under-par total at Eugene Country Club, a record score in relation to par, and it’s the largest margin of victory dating back to 2000. With the win, Carta earned an exemption into the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, July 14-17, in Sylvania, Ohio.
Miami freshman Dewi Weber and Arizona freshman Haley Moore tied for third place at 8 under. Alabama freshman Cheyenne Knight and Tennessee sophomore Anna Newell tied for fourth place at 6 under.
“Today I struggled a little bit because I was really nervous,” Carta said. “But my putter has always been with me and made the difference. I scored really well because I was making a lot of putts.”
The fuel provided for Carta’s fire came before she even arrived in Oregon. Prior to the cross-country trip she found a list of freshman who were considered the leading contenders to win the NCAA’s freshman of the year accolade. Her name was not mentioned.
Not being named on the list in the first place may have been a slight. Although she hadn’t won an event she came into the NCAA Championship after collecting four consecutive top-10 finishes and was ranked inside the top 25 by Golfstat.
Carta was on a mission from the first day. She opened with 69, but got progressively stronger each day. A third-round 66 was a clinic in precision as she poured in six birdies. Carta only made two bogeys and one double bogey all week. She made 20 birdies.
“I still can’t believe I won,” Carta said.
Candy Hannemann (2001), Virada Nirapathpongporn (2002) and Anna Grzebien (2005) were the three previous individual NCAA champs from Duke.