DURHAM, N.C. - Head Coach Dan Brooks and the Duke women's golf team will head to Clemmons, N.C. this weekend to compete in the 16th annual ACC Championship. The championship will take place from April 16-18 at the Par 71, 6,348-Yard Salem Glen Country Club.
The Blue Devils are the eight-time defending ACC Champions and a Duke golfer has been the ACC Individual Champion in four of the past five years. Duke has one ACC Champion on its current roster as Virada Nirapathpongporn won in 2001, but Liz Janangelo finished tied for second last year as a freshman.
Duke is currently ranked first nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, while Wake Forest (14), North Carolina (20) and Florida State (30) are also ranked in the top 30. Duke boasts five golfers ranked in the top-12 nationally-- Janangelo (1), Brittany Lang (3), Nirapathpongporn (6), Anna Grzebien (10) and Leigh Anne Hardin (12).
The Blue Devils have been the team to beat in 2003-04 as Duke has registered one of the most impressive seasons in collegiate golf history. On the year, Duke has won eight of nine tournaments and the one tournament the Blue Devils lost, they had only four golfers competing due to Nirapathpongporn and Janangelo playing in the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship.
In 2003-04, Duke has won its seven stroke-play tournaments by an average margin of 22.3 strokes, which includes a school-record 49 strokes at the Tar Heel Invitational in the fall.
Janangelo, a sophomore from West Hartford, Conn., has posted two outright individual titles and has shared the title on two other occasions this season. Overall, Janangelo has notched a 70.65 stroke average on the season with seven top-five finishes in her seven tournaments played. She leads the squad with 14 rounds of even or under par. The Duke single season record for stroke average is 72.88 by Candy Hannemann in 2000-01.
Lang, a freshman product of McKinney, Texas, has collected five top-five finishes in all five tournaments in the spring, including two victories at the Lady Gator and Liz Murphey. The leading candidate for National Rookie of the Year, Lang has posted a 71.42 stroke average in the spring with six rounds of even or under par. Overall, Lang has registered a 72.35 stroke average this season, which would be a new Duke record for a freshman.
Having another solid season for the Blue Devils is Nirapathpongporn, the 2003 U.S. Amateur Champion. A senior from Bangkok, Thailand, Nirapathpongporn owns a 72.35 stroke average with four top-five and six top-10 finishes this season.
One of the other top freshmen in the nation is Grzebien, a native of Narragansett, R.I. Grzebien has registered a 73.48 stroke average to go along with three top-five, four top-10 and six top-20 finishes. She has played some of her best golf in the final round as she collected her career-best round of 68 in the final round of the Lady Puerto Rico Classic and the Stanford/Pepsi Intercollegiate.
In her three years of playing in the ACC Championship, Hardin has finished no lower than ninth. On the season, Hardin has posted a 73.74 stroke average with three top-five and four top-10 finishes. Her best finish of the year came at the Tar Heel Invitational, where she tied for first with a three-day total of 209.
Last season, the Blue Devils won their eighth ACC title winning by 16 strokes over Wake Forest. Duke posted rounds of 310-290-277 to finish with a three-day total of 877. In three ACC Championships played at Salem Glen, Duke was won by a margin of 26.3 strokes. The Blue Devils won by 34 strokes in 2000 and 29 strokes in the 2003 championships. Overall, Duke has won the ACC Championship in 1984, '85, '93, '96, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02 and '03.
Eight different Blue Devils have claimed individual honors at the ACC Championship- Mary Anne Widman (1984), Evelyn Orley (1985), Kathi Poppmeier (1994), Jenny Chuasiriporn (19996, '97), Beth Bauer (1999), Maria Garcia-Estrada (2000), Nirapathpongporn (2001) and Candy Hannemann (2002).
Brooks is in his 20th season with the Blue Devils. He is an eight-time ACC Coach of the Year selection and has led Duke to 52 event titles, two NCAA Championships, five ACC Championships and 26 individual medalist honors, over the last six years.
Play will start on Friday at 8:00 a.m. and will go through Sunday with 18 holes each day. In the first round, Virginia and Maryland will tee off first followed by Florida State and N.C. State in the second grouping and Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina in the final grouping. The Blue Devils will begin teeing off at approximately 9:40 a.m. on Friday.