HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, FLA.- On Saturday, the top-ranked and top-seeded Duke women's golf team completed the first step in obtaining its season-long goal of winning its third NCAA Championship, as the Blue Devils carded a final-round 291 to win by 22 strokes at the NCAA East Regional. Duke finished with a three-day total of 869 at the Par 72, 6,165-yard El Campeon Course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
The Blue Devils now advance to the NCAA Championship on May 18-21 at the Grand National Lake Course in Auburn, Ala. Other teams advancing to the championship include UNLV (891), North Carolina (892), Florida State (904), Wake Forest (906), Furman (907), Tennessee (918), Oklahoma State (920) and Florida (920).
The victory for the Blue Devils is the 10th of the season, which is a new school record.
Duke finished the tournament with three golfers in the top five of the individual standings led by sophomore Liz Janangelo, who carded a team-best round of 69 on Saturday. Janangelo, the top-ranked golfer in the nation, finished the tournament tied for third with a three-day total of 217. A native of West Hartford, Conn., collected three birdies on the morning without any bogies. It marked the ninth top-five finish in nine tournaments played this season for Janangelo.
Brittany Lang, a freshman from McKinney, Texas, also finished tied for third with a 217. She posted a final round 74 with only one birdie on the day. The top-five finish was her seventh of the season out of 10 tournaments.
Senior Leigh Anne Hardin finished off a stellar tournament with three-day total of 218 and was tied for fifth. Hardin, a product of Martinsville, Ind., notched a final round 75 with no birdies after posting six birdies over the first two days.
One of Duke's best final round golfers, freshman Anna Grzebien carded a 73 on Saturday to finish tied for 15th with a total of 224. A Narragansett, R.I., native, Grzebien registered a tied for team best three birdies on the morning. She finished with seven birdies in three days.
In what was her worst day of her senior year, Virada Nirapathpongporn finished with an 81 on the final day of action. The Bangkok, Thailand product concluded the tournament with a 228, which was tied for 26th. The score on Saturday marks only the fourth time the U.S. Amateur champion has finished a round in the 80's.
Duke will be vying for its third NCAA title in school history as the Blue Devils won the championship in 1999 and 2002. Earlier this season, Duke won the NCAA Preview at the Grand National with a playoff victory over Auburn.