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For the second time this fall, the Duke/Leona Maguire double came to fruition.
The team and its star both closed out one-shot wins Sunday at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational. The sixth-ranked Blue Devils began the final round at the UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C., with a 10-shot lead but got a furious charge from Alabama. The No. 2 Crimson Tide blitzed their way to a closing 18-under 270 for a 30-under total.
But the valiant effort fell short. The Crimson Tide actually took a late lead, but Duke made a final birdie push at the finish to post the day’s second-best round, a 9-under 279, and place ahead of everyone at 31 under.
Maguire made five birdies in her final round on the way to a 3-under 69 and a victory at 12 under. The overnight leader outlasted South Carolina’s Ainhoa Olarra by a shot.
Duke and Maguire both won at their season-opening Jim West Challenge event as well. That tournament produced a 22-shot triumph for the Blue Devils while Maguire went out to a three-shot win.
The senior is the reigning winner of the ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M (and has won two of the last three) and now boasts two victories in three starts this season.
“I’m really proud of both the team and my individual performance this week,” Maguire said, via goduke.com. “We played some true Duke golf this weekend against a very high quality field. Everyone really dug deep coming down the stretch to hold off Alabama and it gives us great confidence leading into our final event of the fall.”
The Blue Devils had three players in the top 15. Maguire’s winning performance was backed up by a solo ninth at 8 under for Virginia Elena Carta (the 2016 NCAA Individual champion) and freshman Jaravee Boonchant’s tie for 13th at 5 under.
Ana Belac posted a tie for 20th at 3 under while Miranda Wang (another freshman) came in a tie for 30th at even par.
South Carolina, ranked 12th, finished third at 18 under. Top-ranked Arkansas came in fourth at 13 under while host North Carolina (ranked 39th) placed fifth at 8 under.
The Crimson Tide were led by Lauren Stephenson (T-3, 10 under) and Kristen Gillman (T-6, 9 under).
Duke will conclude its fall season Oct. 27-29 at the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, N.C.