EUGENE, Ore. – A 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday was the exclamation point for Virginia Elena Carta’s record-breaking start at the NCAA Women’s Championship.
Carta, a freshman at Duke, shot a third-round 66 to match the low score of the week at Eugene Country Club. She leads the field at 13-under 203, which shattered the previous 54-hole scoring mark in relation to par (9 under, set by four players). Carta would be the fourth Duke player to win the NCAA individual title.
“I’m feeling really good,” she said, “but the next 18 holes are going to be tough. You never know how the other players on the course are going to play. I’m excited. I’m pretty happy with my game.”
The record for the low 72-hole total at the NCAAs is 12 under, set by Penny Hammel (1983) and Caroline Hedwall (2010).
“Being a freshman and the leader, the best ever at the NCAA Championship? Yeah, I’m a little bit surprised,” Duke coach Dan Brooks said. “I say that not shocked, but just, wow. If you aren’t a little bit surprised, that’s an awfully high expectation that you have of a freshman. I’m tickled for her.”
Duke is also in good shape in the team competition. Led by Carta and 2015 NCAA player of the year Leona Maguire (T-9), the Blue Devils shot 8-under 285 Sunday and are tied for second place, two shots behind leader Southern Cal. The low eight teams after Monday’s final round of stroke play advance to the match-play portion of the championship.