East: South Carolina leads; Duke down to four
Top team: South Carolina (288)
Top individual: Katerina Ruzickova (Texas A&M)
In position: 2. Alabama (292), 3. Florida (294), T-4. Washington (296), T-4. Texas (296), T-4. Texas A&M (296), 7. Tulane (298), 8. Oklahoma State (299).
Chasing: 9. Michigan State (300), 10. Central Florida (301), T-11. Duke (302), T-11. Arizona (302), T-13. Maryland (303), T-13. Arizona State (303), 15. Wake Forest (304), 16. Northwestern (305).
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Devils' drama: Duke’s chances this week took a major hit when sophomore Alejandra Cangrejo injured her right elbow coming out of the rough on the 12th hole at Penn State’s Blue Course. The Colombian was even par at the time and forced to withdraw. Third-seeded Duke finished 14 over, tied for 11th.
Cangrejo broke the elbow as a child and has been bothered by it ever since. Coach Dan Brooks doubts she’ll return to action over the next two days. She was scheduled to meet with a doctor Thursday afternoon. Cangrejo was runner-up at the ACC Championship.
“Duke has done some pretty special things with four,” said Brooks, alluding to a 10-shot victory at the Bryan National in 2005. ‘We can have a special story to tell.”
Junior Lindy Duncan, Golfweek’s top-ranked player, birdied the 18th hole to shoot 73. Duke has won seven NCAA regionals. The Blue Devils have failed to advance to the NCAA Championship only twice: 1997 and 2011.
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Carolina's quick start: South Carolina took the early lead on a windy, chilly day thanks to a strong back-nine performance in the morning wave. The eighth-seeded Gamecocks played the last nine holes 4 under to finish at even-par 288. Justine Dreher led the team with a 2-under 70, while Katie Burnett birdied three of the last four holes to finish at 72.
“In my mind, this is the deepest region there is, from top to bottom,” said South Carolina coach Kalen Harris.
The Gamecocks won the 2010 East Regional, with Burnett taking medalist honors. Harris has led the Gamecocks to an NCAA Championship berth in four of the past five years.
Target golf: Tournament host Penn State’s season is over, but head coach Denise St. Pierre offered a few thoughts on her home track.
“The greens are like dartboards,” St. Pierre said.
The rough isn’t as deep as it usually is for championships, St. Pierre noted, because officials were concerned about pace of play. But it’s still difficult enough to raise concern for those who are wild off the tee. Otherwise, there's not a lot of trouble out there.
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Short shots: Texas A&M’s Katerina Ruzickova paced the field with a 5-under 67, posting six birdies. She was one of only five players to break par. . . . It was a rough day for teams from Arizona. No. 2-seeded Arizona State opened with a disappointing 303 and stands at T-13. Arizona didn’t fare much better, shooting 302 for a share of 11th place.