The Duke Blue Devils are your 2014 NCAA women's golf champions.
After the four-day tournament at Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that included the nation's best teams and a serious test of will, Duke came out on top after letting its lead completely slip away to defending champion USC throughout Friday's final round.
It was just another one of many titles for Duke, as the team's Twitter account noted:
#Duke wins it's 6th NCAA Championship and second in Tulsa!!!— Duke Women's Golf (@Duke_WGOLF) May 23, 2014
The Blue Devils' five performers over the weekend—Sandy Choi, Celine Boutier, Alejandra Cangrejo, Laetitia Beck and Yu Liu—proved too much for their elite competition. Each golfer played 72 holes in a stroke-play format, with all the players' scores from each team added up for a total round. The tournament ended with Duke being crowned champs once again.
Although her USC team is nursing a tough defeat, former amateur standout Doris Chen took home the individual championship with a four-day total of 274—six strokes under par and two below second-place finisher Boutier.
USGA congratulated her:
Let's take a look at the final leaderboard:
|Pos.||Team||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Rd. 4||Final Score|
Note: Visit NCAA.com for the entire leaderboard.
The tournament's opening round started out with a few separating from the pack, including Duke. Oklahoma topped the leaderboard after Round 1, with Duke, USC and UCLA all close by.
It was more of the same in the second round. The Blue Devils' round of 285 was tied for the third-best of the day but matched by many other teams, and the Sooners still held the advantage through 36 holes.
Thursday, however, saw the best stand out from the rest as Duke and USC shot rounds of 278. That gave the Blue Devils a coveted six-stroke lead heading into the final round, because the Trojans had slipped up the day prior with a round of 291.
It didn't take long for that to change, though. Per Pac-12 Networks, USC caught up heading down the final stretch:
Being outshot by their stiffest competition by six strokes on the all-important final day, Duke didn't panic, even though its lead had just evaporated.
Then, as The Herald-Sun's Stephen Wiseman observed, Cangrejo took over:
Alejandra Cangrejo has birdies on 3 of her last 6 holes. @duke_wgolf leads USC by 3 strokes for NCAA title— Stephen Wiseman (@stevewisemanNC) May 23, 2014
After shooting an even par through the front nine and seeing her team's title hopes start to slip away, Cangrejo dazzled on the back nine. She bogeyed hole No. 10 but then went on to birdie three holes in a five-hole span and finish two-under par on the day.
USC gave a valiant effort. It entered the day six strokes back and made them up in no time—aided by Chen's four birdies on the front nine.
But as the teams headed toward the 16th hole, Golfweek's Julie Williams said it was just too little, too late:
Leaders in 16 fairway, Duke leads by two. Tricky holes behind us, USC running out of time #NCAAWGolf— Julie Williams (@GolfweekJules) May 23, 2014
The national title victory on Friday was huge for the Blue Devils, not just in terms of what it means to this team but what it means in history. Duke's sixth championship brought it just one championship away from tying Arizona State's record of seven.
But considering it broke a seven-year championship-less drought, the moment was certainly sweet for the Blue Devils.