Weather suspends play at ANNIKA Intercollegiate

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Weather suspends play at ANNIKA Intercollegiate

College

Weather suspends play at ANNIKA Intercollegiate

LAKE ELMO, Minn. – For nearly five hours, Monday’s opening round of the ANNIKA Intercollegiate was played in ideal weather – perfect temperatures, only light breezes and almost no clouds.

But within a matter of a half hour, storm clouds rolled in on Royal Golf Club and pretty soon all 12 teams were huddled around tables inside the two-story clubhouse waiting out a weather delay. Heavy rain and lightning ended up suspending play until Tuesday morning, when players are expected to resume at 8 a.m. local time.

Duke leads at 9 under with two players still on the golf course. The Blue Devils, who left Durham, N.C., for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area last Wednesday because of Hurricane Florence, were led by senior Virginia Elena Carta and junior Ana Belac, their two most experienced players.

“This course gives you a lot of opportunities, so I just wanted to stay patient and wait for those opportunities,” said Belac, who carded seven birdies, including two in her final three holes, to shoot 4-under 68.

Carta, the 2016 NCAA individual champion, still has the par-4 ninth hole to play, but she is 4 under with just two bogeys on her card.

This is somewhat of a new-look Duke team, which is without two-time ANNIKA Award winner Leona Maguire for the first time in four years. Maguire graduated last spring and has since turned pro.

Belac is close friends with Maguire and the two still exchange texts almost daily. “I miss Leona so much,” she said. But Belac also realizes that this team must move on quickly. With just six players on the roster, everyone on the Blue Devils roster needs to step up, from freshman Gina Kim, who is playing No. 1 this week, to former top-ranked junior golfer Hannah O’Sullivan, who isn’t in the lineup this week but made the trip because of the hurricane.

“We are all having to step up,” Belac said. “But I don’t think we feel Leona leaving, game-wise, that much because we have so many talented players still.”

Alabama, the reigning NCAA runnerup, is just a shot back in second place. The Crimson Tide still have three to six holes left as a team, and also boast the current individual leader, transfer Kenzie Wright, who is 5 under through 15 holes.

Like Duke, Alabama has added some fresh faces. Wright comes to Tuscaloosa from SMU while Jiwon Jeon transferred from Daytona State. Lauren Stephenson, last season’s national leader in scoring average, is 2 under through 13 holes while two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Kristen Gillman is even through 12.

USC, in head coach Justin Silverstein’s debut, is third at 6 under. Freshman Malia Nam shot 3-under 69 to lead the Trojans.

Defending champion Arkansas is seventh while reigning national champion Arizona is eighth.

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