2004: College - Bulldogs halt Blue Devils’ streak
Seven events, 21 rounds and 197 days into its competitive season, Duke’s winning streak came to an end. A scrappy Blue Devils foursome arrived in Athens poised to protect the team’s perfect season, but a determined Georgia squad proved too much March 28 at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.
With Duke’s top two players – Liz Janangelo and Virada Nirapathpongporn – playing in the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Blue Devils’ squad was reduced to four players. Although Duke trailed by only one stroke after the opening round, it slipped farther behind as each day passed.
Tournament-host Georgia rallied from six back on its home course the final day, posting a 3-under 285 for a 1-over 865 total. The Bulldogs came in 11 strokes ahead of Ohio State (302). Duke finished third at 877.
“We don’t have a superstar on our team but six or seven really solid players,” said Georgia coach Todd McCorkle, who had three sophomores and two freshmen in his lineup. “I feel like we’ve been underrated all year, and I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
The Bulldogs, whose third victory of the season moved them to No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, were led by a pair of freshmen. Allison Martin’s second consecutive 69 in the final round led to a career-best second-place finish. Martin didn’t have too many expectations for her freshman year after being out six months prior to the fall with a back injury. But the Bakersfield, Calif., product is starting to feel at home in Athens, recording five birdies down the stretch at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
Whitney Wade was a model of consistency with three 72s. Sophomores Lisa Tyler and Kelly Froelich also had even-par final rounds for the Bulldogs.
Duke’s Brittany Lang clinched her second individual title in a row with a 9-under 207. The long-hitting Texan carried over confidence from her triumph March 9 at the Lady Gator Invitational by shooting a course record-tying 66 in the first round. She then finished with 73-68, and hardly seemed dismayed to see her team’s stunning streak come to an end.
“We didn’t have a third of our team so I look at it as we fought hard, did our best and fell short,” said Lang. “That’s just life, it goes on. I know when they’re back, we’ll win every tournament from here.”
Although Nirapathpongporn missed the cut (79-76) Friday at the Nabisco, she was not able to compete in Athens. Because Duke coach Dan Brooks didn’t know the outcome in California at the time of tournament registration, he chose not to include Janangelo or Nirapathpongporn in his starting five.
“It took a lot of guts and a lot of heart for them to come here and play four-legged, and they damn near won the tournament,” McCorkle said of Duke. “They’re definitely one of the best teams to ever play college golf.”