Top team: UCLA (16-over-par 592)
Top individuals: Emily Tubert, Arkansas (144), 2. Ani Gulugian, UCLA (145)
In position (the next seven): T-2. Minnesota (598), T-2. LSU (598), 4. Notre Dame (603), 5. Ohio State (607), T6. Northwestern (608), T6. Stanford (608), 8. Arkansas (610)
Chasing (still work to do): 9. Chattanooga (612), 10. Texas (613), T-11. Kent State (615), T-11. Tulane (615), T-13. Duke (616), T-13. Wake Forest (616)
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Snapping streaks: In his 27 years coaching, Dan Brooks has never coached a Duke team that has not put a first-place trophy in the trophy case. With only this week’s Central Regional and a possible trip to the NCAA Championship remaining on the schedule, time is running out to keep that streak alive. The Blue Devil program has won an event in each of the past 29 years.
“It’s not fun not getting a win,” Brooks said.
Today was not fun for Brooks either. Duke’s 26-over 314 was its worst round in a regional since 1997 – the last time Duke failed to advance to the national championship.
With Duke in a tie for 13th place after 36 holes, a victory this week is not the major concern. Duke has advanced to the national championship in each of the past 13 years. That streak is the one that is most important to Blue Devil golf.
“We are in a hole,” Brooks said. “We have to get out and believe in ourselves. The big deal is that they believe we are a team that belongs at nationals and all we have to do is stay patient and play – then we will get there. If they get down then we are in trouble.”
Brooks does not seem to be on-edge or even unsettled about his squad’s overall performance this year, something you might expect from a coach that has won five national titles. A lot of this year’s struggles can be attributed to a young squad still gaining experience. The Blue Devils have two freshman and two sophomores in the lineup this week and Kim Donovan is the lone senior.
“We are more of a unit now and they seem to be the most excited now about what we are doing here at the end of the season and that’s a great thing to see,” Brooks said.
Brooks has guided Duke to 110 wins – an NCAA women’s golf record. While the program is still one of the best in the women’s game, the postseason atmosphere surrounding the squad is not the same this year as many have grown used to.
“It has been different,” Brooks said. “They are good kids and they are honest and they know they have a ways to go in some areas.”
Battling it out in the final round and advancing to the finals will only help this version of Duke golf continue to mature.
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Motivated group: There are numerous things that could be fueling the Minnesota Gophers here at the NCAA Central Regional. It could be the fact they were most likely the first team out a year ago. . . or it could be that it’s the first time Minnesota has played in the postseason since 2001. . . or possibly a senior group that doesn’t want its week to end at regionals. . . or it could simply be a close unit that is coming together after season of off-course distractions.
Former associate women’s coach Katie Brenny, who resigned last fall after two months on the job, filed a lawsuit Jan. 11 against the University of Minnesota claiming that as a lesbian she faced discrimination from director of golf John Harris.
Whatever the reason may be, Minnesota is in position to advance to the national championship for the first time since 1989, when they placed 12th.
The Gophers followed an opening-round 301 with a 297 today, leaving them tied for second place with LSU. Three golfers stand in the top 11 after 36 holes with senior Samantha Sommers leading the way with back-to-back 73s. Sommers is tied for third place after 36 holes. Senior Teresa Puga has posted 73-75, good for a tie for eighth place, and Michele Edlin is tied for 11th at 149.
“We all were really surprised last year about not getting picked and having four seniors this year that were part of that, it was a bitter time for us and I think they are using that as motivation to get to the NCAAs,” said Director of Instruction Ernie Rose. “We have been telling them all year that they can play and it’s nice to see them doing that this week. Now we just have to make sure to finish it off tomorrow.”
Short Shots: Arkansas freshman Emily Tubert, who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links here on the Warren golf Course this past summer, leads the way individually. Tubert stands at level par after two rounds … Members of the Ball State women’s team made the three-hour drive North from Muncie, Ind., to South Bend to watch teammate Brittany Kelly. Kelly, who has shot consecutive 79s, is competing as an individual and is the first Ball State player to advance to the postseason … North Texas, Morehead State and Butler are three of the six teams making their first trip to the postseason this year – each are playing here at the Central Regional. North Texas, which is the only program of the six to get in an as an at-large bid, is the best of the three here, placing 19th after two rounds.