In Search of Perfection

By Steve BurkowskiFebruary 17, 2004, 5:00 pm
The spring season for the No. 1 ranked womens golf team gets going this weekend in Puerto Rico. Duke will put their perfect mark of five wins in five fall events on the line.
 
The Lady Puerto Rico Classic is the first of seven tournaments on the Dukies docket over the next three months, and if recent performance is any indication, the Lady Blue Devils may very well run the table.
 
On the surface, it is difficult to find anything negative to say about the six players in this group. Head coach Dan Brooks has the luxury of getting the best junior players in the land. And thats exactly what he has done.
 
They are led by reigning U.S Womens Amateur Champion Virada Nirapathpongporn. The senior is poised to become a first team All-American for the fourth straight year. Also in her final season, Leigh Anne Hardin is playing some of her best golf during her days in Durham. Sophomore Liz Janangelo won three times in the fall, and in my opinion, is the most explosive player in the womens game. Brittany Lang and Anna Grezbien, both freshmen, have made the transition the next level without hesitation. Junior Niloufar Aazam-Zanganeh returns to the lineup after sitting out last fall after hip surgery. She has already posted a 72 in her first round of qualifying earlier this month.
 
Now lets talk about the potential pitfalls.
 
Perfection is hard to attain, even for this group. Needing seven more winsit will take an even stronger effort to achieve such a feat.
 
Teams are allowed to offer six scholarships for womens golfSix playersyou can figure the math on this one. As for depth, there is not a whole lot. With Aazam-Zanganehs recent absence fresh in their minds, Duke hopes not to repeat a fall where only five available players left no room for error.
 
Speaking of the lineup, Dukes biggest obstacle will be in late March in Athens, Ga. That is the week of the Kraft Nabisco Championship on the LPGA Tour, an event in which Nirapathpongporn and Janangelo will play after receiving exemptions.
 
With that being said, the plan for now is to take the remaining four players to the Liz Murphey Collegiate and play the event without the possibility of a throw out score. A quick refreshermost college events have five players with the best four scores counting for each round. Take off the best two players from this team, and this might be the biggest challenge yet.
 
The gold standard in womens golf was the 94-95 Arizona State team, which went a perfect 10-for-10 on their way to a third consecutive National Championship.
 
All this being said, Duke is the best womens team I have ever seen, and only time will tell if the record books agree. The great part will be the journey, which usually is as exciting as the ultimate achievement, as part two of their search of perfection is upon us.
 
Dont forget to tune into College Central presented by PING, Wednesday evening at our new time - 10:30 pm ET.
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.