2004: Blue Devils boast top two freshmen
Even without two of the most highly touted junior golfers ever, this year’s freshman class in women’s college golf is talented and deep.
Before the season, all eyes were on twins Aree and Naree Song at the University of Florida. But before classes began, Aree turned professional, leaving Naree to carry the load for the Gators. A few months later, Naree Song, who finished the fall ranked No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, decided not to return to school.
Now, the national freshman of the year honor might be decided within the lineup of one team – No. 1 Duke, whose six-player roster includes a pair of freshmen who have quickly established themselves as two of the country’s best players.
Brittany Lang of McKinney, Texas, and Anna Grzebien of Narragansett, R.I., have adjusted to the college game with ease.
“Both are doing a great job,” Duke coach Dan Brooks said. “They have handled the new environment very well.”
Lang, the top-ranked freshman at No. 6, is on pace to set a Duke record for freshman scoring average. Through her first five events, she is averaging 72.43 strokes per round, .74 better than Beth Bauer’s 73.17 average in 1998-99, when Bauer was national freshman of the year.
“I am on a team with great players and am trying to compare and compete with them,” said Lang.
At No. 12, Grzebien is the next-highest freshman in the rankings with a scoring average of 73.21. She said she doesn’t worry about her inexperience.
“I try to treat it like junior golf – whether you are senior or a freshman you try to do the same thing – put up the scores,” Grzebien said.
In all, 18 freshman – not counting Song – are ranked in Golfweek’s top 100. Two other schools also have a pair of freshmen in the top 100 – Georgia and Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs feature Whitney Wade (20th) and Allison Martin (72nd). Oklahoma State claims Ashley Knoll (50th) and Mallory Underwood (89th).
However, it’s the Duke duo that could help deliver the knockout this spring when the Blue Devils seek their third NCAA title in six years.
“When it comes to scoring average, they are the best one-two punch,” Brooks said of his rookies. “Just let the numbers speak for themselves.”