Duke Storms Back For Women's Golf National Title

May 24, 2002

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    Auburn, WA � Duke sophomore Virada Nirapathpongporn won the individualcrown, and led her team to the overall title on the final day of the2002NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships at Washington National GolfClub.The second-ranked Blue Devils notched five birdies in the final threeholesto finish at 12-over 1,164, moving past three teams tied for second toclaimthe school's second national title in the past four years.

    Sixth-ranked Arizona led each of the first three days of the tournament,butplayed the last four holes 4-over par to fall to 8-over for the day andjoinsurging Texas and top-ranked Auburn in a three-way tie for second at18-over. Defending national champion Georgia rounded out the top fivewith ascore of 24-over for the tourney.

    The round was not nearly as dramatic for individual championNirapathpongporn, who opened the day with a three-stroke lead andwidened itto five by the end of the round, carding an even-par 72 to finish at9-underand equal the NCAA's all-time championships scoring record of 279established by Jennifer Rosales in 1998.

    Three athletes tied for second at 4-under 284, including 2001 NCAAPlayer ofthe Year Lorena Ochoa of Arizona. Georgia's Summer Sirmons, the closestcompetitor to Nirapathpongporn through 56 holes, fired a 1-over 73 tojoinOchoa at 4-under for the tournament, while Auburn's Danielle Downeycardedan even-par 72 to round out the list of second-place finishers.

    'I just kept telling myself, OEyou've got to keep playing hard, becauseitmight come down to a shot or two,'' Nirapathpongporn said. 'We workedhardall year and I was happy to finish this off.'

    Nirapathpongporn is the second Duke player to win the national title inasmany years, marking just the third time in history that teammates haveperformed the feat back-to-back. Candy Hannemann won the 2001 title fortheBlue Devils, Emilee Klein and Kristel Mourgue d'Algue won titles forArizonaState in 1994 and 1995, respectively, and Susan Slaughter and AnnikaSorenstam did the double for Arizona in 1990 and 1991, respectively.

    Host Washington placed 20th overall with a four-round total of 1,203.Freshman Paige Mackenzie paced the Huskies with a 72-hole score of6-over294 to finish in a tie for 25th. Louise Friberg tied for 55th at12-over,Michelle Grafos and Lindsay Morgan tied for 88th at 18-over, and seniorKelli Kamimura capped her Husky career with a score of 38-over to finish120th.

    'If it weren't for Kelli, we wouldn't be standing here,' said Huskies'headcoach Mary Lou Mulflur. 'She's done so much for this program during hercareer. There's just no way to put a value on what she's meant to thisteam.'

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