The top-ranked Duke women's golf team will head to Auburn, Ala., on May 18-21 for the 2004 NCAA Championship. The Blue Devils will be in search of concluding one of the best seasons in NCAA women's golf history with its third NCAA title.
The tournament will be played at the Par 72, 6,215-yard Grand National Lake Course. The Blue Devils will be the top seed from the East and will kick off action on Tuesday, May 18 at 12:30 p.m. along with West Region champion, UCLA, and Central Region champion, Vanderbilt. It will be a 72-hole tournament with 18 holes played each day.
Participating in the championship will be-- East Region - Duke (1), UNLV (14), North Carolina (17), Florida State (29), Wake Forest (13), Furman (24), Tennessee (21) and Oklahoma State (10); Central Region - Vanderbilt (4), Arizona (9), Michigan State, Southern California (7), Baylor, Purdue, New Mexico (6) and Texas A&M; West Region - UCLA (2), California (3), Stanford (18), Washington (12), Georgia (8), Ohio State (5), Arizona State (28) and Washington State.
Heading into the NCAA Championship, the Blue Devils have won 10 of 11 tournaments with the lone third place finish coming with only four golfers playing. Both Liz Janangelo and Virada Nirapathpongporn missed the Liz Murphey Collegiate due to playing in the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship. The 10 tournaments won is a new school record.
All five of the Duke golfers traveling this week rank in the top 14 of the Golfweek rankings- Janangelo (1), Brittany Lang (4), Nirapathpongporn (6), Leigh Anne Hardin (13), Anna Grzebien (14). Each of the five golfers playing this week have also scored in the 60s during the season.
The last time the Blue Devils traveled to a NCAA Championship in a town named Auburn, Duke won the 2002 title in Auburn, Wash.
Duke is making the program's 17th trip to the NCAA Championship. Of the previous 16 NCAA Championship appearances for the Blue Devils, Duke has finished in the top-10 ten times. The Blue Devils won the championship in 1999 and 2002 and have registered top-five finishes in 1988 (5th), 1994 (4th), 1998 (4th) and 2001 (2nd).
The Blue Devils boast three golfers in the lineup with NCAA Championship experience. Senior Virada Nirapathpongporn finished tied for 13th as a freshman (72-73-74-75=294), first as a sophomore (68-69-70-72=279) and tied for 11th as a junior (72-79-74-76=301). Senior Leigh Anne Hardin finished tied for 35th in 2001 (75-76-72-78=301), tied for 13th as a sophomore (76-72-71-72=291) and tied for 66th as a junior (84-80-74-74=312). Sophomore Liz Janangelo was tied for 17th as a freshman (82-76-72-72=302).
Duke has registered the NCAA Individual Champion in two out of the last three years. Candy Hannemann won in 2001 and Nirapathpongporn won in 2002. The Blue Devils became only the third squad in NCAA history to post the individual champion in two straight years.