AUBURN, ALA. - The top-ranked Duke women's golf team claimed the NCAA Fall Preview title on Sunday as the Blue Devils shot a tournament-best three-under-par, 285, and defeated host Auburn in a playoff at the Par 72, 6215-yard Grand National Lake Course in Auburn, Ala.
Both Duke and Auburn finished the three-day tournament with a score of 870 and went back to the 18th hole for the playoff. The Blue Devils finished off the playoff quickly as Brittany Lang, Liz Janangelo and Virada Nirapathpongporn each made a par on the hole, while Anna Grzebien and Leigh Anne Hardin finished with a bogey. Auburn turned in only two pars, two bogeys and one double-bogey, which gave Duke the victory.
'It was great to pull out a win today, especially in a playoff,' said Duke head coach Dan Brooks. 'We made a good team effort today. To have a couple of freshmen start for us in the third-most important tournament of the year and for them to play as well as they did was outstanding. From top to bottom, we have a very solid team this year and that is exciting.'
Rounding out the top-10 was Arizona (878), Oklahoma (888), Oklahoma State (895), UCLA (896), Vanderbilt (899), Southern California (902), New Mexico (905) and Pepperdine (906).
The Blue Devils received a total team effort on Sunday as everyone shot 74 or better on the day. Leading the pack was Nirapathpongporn, the 2002 NCAA Champion, who fired a five-under-par, 67, to close out her tournament in tied eighth (216). A Bangkok, Thailand product, Nirapathpongporn went on a stretch where she went five-under-par through five holes with three birdies and an eagle. The eagle came on the par five hole 12 when she put together three great shots, which included an 18-foot putt off the fringe for eagle.
'I didn't start out well during the first two days of the tournament, so I wanted to come out and finish strong today,' said Nirapathpongporn. 'I started off the round with a bogey and then got in a rhythm where I was able to go five-under-par through a span of five holes, which was very nice.'
Both Janangelo and Hardin each finished the day with an even-par 72. Janangelo, from West Hartford, Conn., had a round which featured four birdies, two bogies and one double-bogey to conclude the tournament tied third (215). A Martinsville, Ind., native, Hardin rebounded from a dismal first two rounds with two birdies on Sunday was tied 56th, individually, (233).
After leading the individual competition on the first day with a five-under-par, 67, Lang turned in a 74 on Sunday to place tied eighth (216). Lang was even par heading in to the final hole, before suffering a double-bogey on hole 18. Grzebien, a freshman from Narragansett, R.I., continued her stellar play in her first collegiate tournament with a final round 72, while finishing tied 29th (225).
Duke will next play in the Tar Heel Invitational on Oct. 3-5 at the Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C.