ATLANTA, Ga. – In a matchup of the last two NCAA Women’s Golf Champions, Duke and Ole Miss will face off Tuesday in the semifinals of match play at the East Lake Cup, which is being played at the historic East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. On Monday, the Blue Devils along with Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Arizona played 18 holes of stroke play to decide an individual medalist and seeds for match play. Duke carded a 7-over, 295, to earn the No. 3 seed, while Oklahoma State (287) earned the No. 1 seed. Ole Miss was second with a 292, while Arizona was fourth with a 298.
“I thought they played well today and it was also a third chance to learn the golf course. The real fun stuff starts tomorrow,” said Duke head coach Dan Brooks.
The Blue Devils got off to a hot start and led the field at 2-under midway through the opening nine holes, but seven bogeys over holds 10-12 dropped Duke back on the team leaderboard.
Rina Tatematsu of Oklahoma State earned medalist honors with a 5-under, 67.
Duke was paced by three golfers in the top eight – Erica Shepherd and Phoebe Brinker tied for fourth with a 73 and Anne Chen was tied for eight with a 74.
Shepherd, a junior from Greenwood, Ind., continued her solid play by shooting a 1-over, 73, on Monday. She opened her day by draining a 6-foot birdie on No. 1, but dropped back to even after hitting her tea shot in the greenside bunker on No. 2 and could not get up-and-down for par. Shepherd moved to 1-under, after sticking her approach on No. 7 to one foot for birdie. She dropped back to 1-over after suffering bogeys on No. 9 and No. 11, but responded with birdies on No. 12 and No. 15 to return to red digits. Shepherd suffered a double-bogey on No. 17 as she went on to finish with a 73. She hit nine fairways, 13 greens and rolled 32 putts.
A product of Wilmington, Del., Brinker featured Duke’s best start of the day with three birds over her first seven holes to lead the field. She opened with a 4-foot birdie on No. 1 and then hit her 7-iron from 160 yards to 15 feet and sank another birdie on No. 2. Brinker rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the 397-yard, par-4 seventh hole to get to 3-under. She struggled on the back nine as she was 4-over from holes 10-13, before two-putting for birdie on the par-5 14th. Brinker closed with three pars and a bogey on No. 17 to finish with a 73. She hit 14 greens, 10 fairways and had 32 putts on the day.
After a tough opening six holes Monday for Chen, she regrouped and played her final 12 holes at 3-under-par on her way to finishing with a 2-over, 74. Chen, who is from Sugar Land, Texas, got things started on hole No. 10 with a sand save par. She then hit her pitching wedge from 110 yards to four feet for birdie. Chen two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th and then hit her 7-iron from 152 yards on No. 15 to three feet and collected her third birdie over a span of four holes. She finished the day with a 2-over, 74, while hitting 11 greens, eight fairways and notching 28 putts.
Both freshman Rylie Heflin and junior Megan Furtney signed for rounds of 75 on Monday and tied for 13th.
Furtney, a native of St. Charles, Ill., had four pars over her first five holes, before registering a birdie on No. 6 to get back to even for the day. She then hit her 8-iron from 157 yards to eight feet for birdie on No. 9 as she made the turn at 1-under. Furtney opened the back nine with back-to-back bogeys, but responded with a 20-foot birdie on No. 14 to once again get back to even. She suffered a double-bogey on No. 15 and bogey on No. 18 to close with a 75. Furtney hit 10 greens, eight fairways and had 30 putts.
A product of Avondale, Pa., Heflin was 2-over-par through nine holes. After a bogey on No. 10, she hit her 7-iron from 155 yards on the challenging par-3 11th to six feet and sank her lone birdie of the day. Heflin was the only golfer in the field to register a birdie on No. 11, which was ranked as the second-hardest hole for the day. On No. 13, Heflin was able to get up-and-down from 110 yards with a pitching wedge for a key par save as she stuck her approach to two feet. She hit 14 greens, 10 fairways and had 32 putts.
Duke and Ole Miss will tee off starting at 12:55 pm, every 20 minutes. Brinker will open things against Natacha Husted at 12:55 pm Heflin will next face Ellen Hume at 1:15 pm, Chen will battle Julia Johnson at 1:35 pm, Furtney takes on Andrea Lignell at 1:55 pm, and Shepherd goes up against Chiara Tamburlini at 2:15 pm
Arizona and Oklahoma State will tee off beginning at 11:15 am The winners of both matches will play Wednesday in the championship, while the other two teams will face off as well on Wednesday to close action.
The Golf Channel will feature live coverage of the tournament over the next two days. On Tuesday, College Central will be live from 2:30-3 pm, live coverage of the event from 3-6 pm, and Golf Central live from 6-7 pm On the final day, College Central will be live from 2:30 -3 pm, followed by live coverage of the final matches from 3-6 pm, and post round interviews will take place on Golf Central from 6-6:30 pm
Duke is making its fourth appearance in the East Lake Cup – 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2021. It matches Stanford and Southern California for the most appearances in the East Lake Cup. The Blue Devils won the team title in 2016, while Ana Belac shared individual medalist accolades in 2019.