The Lady Puerto Rico Classic is the first of seven tournaments on the Dukies docket over the next three months, and if recent performance is any indication, the Lady Blue Devils may very well run the table.
On the surface, it is difficult to find anything negative to say about the six players in this group. Head coach Dan Brooks has the luxury of getting the best junior players in the land. And thats exactly what he has done.
They are led by reigning U.S Womens Amateur Champion Virada Nirapathpongporn. The senior is poised to become a first team All-American for the fourth straight year. Also in her final season, Leigh Anne Hardin is playing some of her best golf during her days in Durham. Sophomore Liz Janangelo won three times in the fall, and in my opinion, is the most explosive player in the womens game. Brittany Lang and Anna Grezbien, both freshmen, have made the transition the next level without hesitation. Junior Niloufar Aazam-Zanganeh returns to the lineup after sitting out last fall after hip surgery. She has already posted a 72 in her first round of qualifying earlier this month.
Now lets talk about the potential pitfalls.
Perfection is hard to attain, even for this group. Needing seven more winsit will take an even stronger effort to achieve such a feat.
Teams are allowed to offer six scholarships for womens golfSix playersyou can figure the math on this one. As for depth, there is not a whole lot. With Aazam-Zanganehs recent absence fresh in their minds, Duke hopes not to repeat a fall where only five available players left no room for error.
Speaking of the lineup, Dukes biggest obstacle will be in late March in Athens, Ga. That is the week of the Kraft Nabisco Championship on the LPGA Tour, an event in which Nirapathpongporn and Janangelo will play after receiving exemptions.
With that being said, the plan for now is to take the remaining four players to the Liz Murphey Collegiate and play the event without the possibility of a throw out score. A quick refreshermost college events have five players with the best four scores counting for each round. Take off the best two players from this team, and this might be the biggest challenge yet.
The gold standard in womens golf was the 94-95 Arizona State team, which went a perfect 10-for-10 on their way to a third consecutive National Championship.
All this being said, Duke is the best womens team I have ever seen, and only time will tell if the record books agree. The great part will be the journey, which usually is as exciting as the ultimate achievement, as part two of their search of perfection is upon us.
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