Duke's Grzebien, Blue Devils Team Have Big Day At NCAA Championships
May 19, 2005
SUNRIVER, Ore. - Duke sophomore Anna Grzebien posted one of the best rounds in tournament history, helping the top-ranked Blue Devils move up from fifth place and into an eight-stroke lead heading into the final round of the 2005 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships on Thursday at the Sunriver Resort's Meadows Course. With a 6-under-par 65, Grzebien also grabbed the individual lead by four strokes.
The fourth and final round begins at 8 a.m. Friday on the par-71, 6,312-yard course (one hour earlier than the previous three days' start times). The top three teams, consisting of Duke, Auburn and UCLA, tee off at 1:20 p.m.
Round three's conditions were much nicer than previous days. There were only a few spots of light rain, and although it was windy and cold at times, most of the day was played under partly sunny skies.
Duke began the day nine shots back in fifth place, but a truly impressive performance gave the Blue Devils (292-303-278) the lead with a 21-over-par 873. Duke's 278 today was 6-under-par, nine strokes better than any round by any team in the tournament this year.
The best individual round the first two days was a 2-under-par 69, but Grzebien's 6-under-par 65 shattered that mark. She started the day with a bogey on the first hole, but recorded three birdies on the front nine and four birdies on the back nine. Four other players have shot a 65 in NCAA Championships history, although those took place on par-72 courses. Grzebien began the day tied for 17th place and four shots back of the leaders.
In addition to Grzebien, Duke got excellent performances from sophomore Brittany Lang (3-under par 68) and senior Niloufar Aazam-Zanganeh (even-par 71). Lang was 2-over-par through 11 holes but birdied five of the final seven holes.
Three other teams have the best chance to catch Duke on Friday. Auburn (+29, 290-296-295=881) is in second place, eight shots back. Defending national champion UCLA (+30, 288-302-292=882) is in third place, nine strokes back. Pepperdine (+33, 291-295-299=885) is in fourth place, 12 strokes back.
In the individual race, Grzebien (73-75-65) stands at an even-par 213 after three rounds.
Two players are four shots back of Grzebien at a 4-over-par 217 - her teammate Lang (74-75-68) and UCLA senior Charlotte Mayorkas (71-73-73). Lang began the day tied for 23rd, while Mayorkas was a co-leader.
Five players are tied for fourth place at 5-over-par 218: Southern California freshman Dewi-Claire Schreefel (70-74-74), Pepperdine junior Carolina Llano (69-77-72), LSU senior Brooke Shelton (71-75-72), Virginia sophomore Leah Wigger (73-72-73) and Auburn sophomore Nicole Hage (73-75-70).
LSU senior Brooke Shelton recorded the rare feat of posting eagles on two consecutive days. On Wednesday, she had a 2 on the par-4 12th hole. Today, she had a 2 on the par-4 fifth hole. She has two of the four eagles in this tournament. Michigan State freshman Sara Brown had an eagle on the par-5 17th hole today.
Duke (1999, 2002) and UCLA (1991, 2004) are each aiming for their third NCAA women's golf title. Auburn and Pepperdine are each seeking their first.
The tournament leader, Duke sophomore Anna Grzebien, came into this week as the Blue Devils' third-ranked player in terms of stroke average. She tied for 49th at last year's NCAA Championships. Her first collegiate title came two weeks ago at the NCAA East Regional. Her previous career-best round was a 4-under-par 68 last year at the Stanford Tournament, and she also shot a 67 at the NCAA East Regional. The score of 65 by Grzebien ties a Duke 18-hole record in NCAA Championship play (tied Jenny Chuasiriporn in 1998).
Her teammate, Duke sophomore Brittany Lang, won three titles this year, including the ACC Championship. She has six career victories. At the 2004 NCAA Championships, she tied for 13th.
UCLA senior Charlotte Mayorkas, a co-leader after the second round and now tied for second, is looking to improve on her finish for the third straight year. She tied for 50th as a 2002 freshman, tied for 17th as a 2003 freshman and tied for fourth as a 2004 junior. Mayorkas has five career tournament victories, though none this season.
Duke's 278 tied a season best for the Blue Devils and breaks a Duke NCAA Championship record by six strokes. Duke had never shot below 290 in the third round prior to today.
Tuesday's average score was 75.76, Wednesday's average score (influenced by poor weather) was 77.29, and Thursday's average was 75.65.
Each day, the most difficult hole has been #3 - the average relative to par has been +0.56, +0.76 and +0.59, respectively. The hole has resulted in 10 birdies and 187 bogies or worse.
After three days, there have been 10 performances under par (six today), and 17 rounds of par-71 (six today). On the other hand, there have been 63 rounds of 80 or greater (15 today).
Only three teams have scored under 300 all three days - Auburn, Pepperdine and California.
Seventeen teams broke 300 on Thursday - that only happened 13 times the first two days.
QUOTES FROM DUKE SOPHOMORE ANNA GRZEBIEN (first place at even-par overall): 'I started off with a three-putt and bogied the first hole. But then I got settled. I was able to leave myself flat putts. Even though some of them were a little longer, I could at least see the breaks ... I really want to win the team championship. Last year, when we came in as the favorites, and had to watch another team get the trophy, it was the worst feeling I had all year ... (on the weather) I knew we had to capitalize on a day like this. You never know what the weather will be like tomorrow, so I was glad our team stepped it up.'
QUOTES FROM DUKE SOPHOMORE BRITTANY LANG (tied for second place at +4 overall): 'That was the back nine that I've been waiting for. I was two over after 11 (holes) and then had five birdies. I made a long putt on 12 that gave me confidence and then I chipped in on 16. The wind died down on the back nine and that helped too... (on her team's play) It is a big confidence boost to see the team playing so well. Having three low scores is really great for us. We just need to go play like this tomorrow and take it home.'
QUOTES FROM UCLA SENIOR CHARLOTTE MAYORKAS (tied for second place at +4 overall): 'I played all right, nothing too spectacular. We just need to stay patient. Although we have already played three rounds, 18 holes is a lot of golf still left to be played. The third round of a four-round tournament is moving day, where everyone tries to separate themselves. We are still in it, so that's most important.'
QUOTES FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FRESHMAN DEWI-CLAIRE SCHREEFEL (tied for fourth place at +5 overall): 'I started on 10 and started off with a birdie. I was hitting the ball well. I felt good through nine holes and wanted to keep it going. Unfortunately, I was five over on the second nine ... If the weather is like this again, you can go under par if you keep it together. My goal is to go low. As a team, we want to finish well.'
QUOTES FROM AUBURN SOPHOMORE NICOLE HAGE (tied for fourth place at +5 overall): 'I started out very uncomfortable and just couldn't find my niche. After I hit my tee shot on five, I really started to find my swing and started to feel a lot more comfortable. I made a lot of clutch putts for par, although I left a couple of birdie putts right on the lip. I hit the ball well today and put my irons right where I was aiming. I only missed four fairways so that helped a lot... (on the team race) We are still right in it. Anything can happen. The course is playing very fair and there are a lot of birdies out there. We just need to go out and play our game and take it one shot at a time.'
QUOTES FROM LSU SENIOR BROOKE SHELTON (tied for fourth place at +5 overall, and had eagles on back-to-back days on par-4s): 'Yesterday I was in the rough, like from 120. I hit it really good. It was with a pitching wedge. Today it was the same club, but not such a good shot. It clanked the pin and went in. It was about the same distance, maybe 118... I played well on the front but got really frustrated on the back. I didn't hit a lot of fairways.'
QUOTES FROM MICHIGAN STATE SOPHOMORE MANDI McCONNELL (tied for ninth place at +6 overall, had the only sub-par round during the morning groups): 'I started out with a lot of pars. My goal today was to have pars. Sometimes you get too greedy going for birdies. I tried to play steady. I chipped in at 14. My short game was really good today. I like the greens and I like the course.'
QUOTES FROM DUKE COACH DAN BROOKS: 'I'm pretty pleased with today's round. I love the 65s and 68s, but we have to count more than two scores. We need the others to play well. It is not over, we still have to play tomorrow. After this round, we've got to release it and come back tomorrow and play. We'll just hope for consistent weather tomorrow... (on Grzebien's round) Anna played really well. She's putting, working her wedges around the green.'
QUOTES FROM AUBURN COACH KIM EVANS: 'Today was better weather and I thought we would have better scores than we did. Diana (Ramage) got frustrated early and couldn't recover. The same was true with Maria (Martinez) because she just couldn't catch any breaks out there. I am proud of Margaret (Shirley) and Abigale (Schepperle) because they are freshmen and got into some trouble early, but held on and did a great job today ... Duke is eight shots in front of us but there is still one day left. We just need to keep piecing together the puzzle. We have the capability to do it based on our success in the final round of our tournaments this season. We have always had people step up.'
QUOTES FROM UCLA COACH CARRIE FORSYTH: 'We played okay today, certainly not great. You need to have a good round to win this tournament, so we'll have to go do it tomorrow. The effort is there, we just need to score. We aren't making our putts... (on what needs to happen differently) We haven't been starting well on the front nine. Today we were eight over on the first nine and finished eight over. We need to get off to a better start... (on Duke's round) Duke played great, so if we are going to win, we'll have to play well, we can't go out and be mediocre. Anything can happen, we just need to go out and play and not worry about the score.'
QUOTES FROM PEPPERDINE COACH LAURIE GIBBS: 'It was a tough day, but our girls are confident and we'll be back tomorrow... (on the weather change) It seems like the tough weather forced us to focus a little more and kept us from thinking about the tournament. I hope for another good day tomorrow. Our lineup has shuffled around a lot this year, one through five. (on tomorrow's final round) We have one of the lowest final-round averages in the country. We still want to win this and now there is nothing to protect, so we just need to go out and post one of our best scores of the year.'