Red-hot Celine Boutier leads No. 3 Duke's ACC title pursuit
History proves Duke’s women’s golf program takes the ACC championship quite seriously.
When tournament play begins at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro today, the Blue Devils will be seeking their 19th overall championship and third in a row.
But this year, in particular, Duke’s players hope to use an ACC title as an important step en route to a bigger prize on the national scale.
Duke carries the nation’s No. 3 ranking into the ACC championship, trailing only No. 1 Southern California and No. 2 UCLA. With no other ACC team in the top 10 (Clemson is No. 14), Duke is expected to win the league title before competing for an NCAA title next month.
““We’re a united group,” Duke coach Dan Brooks said. “They are excited to be playing together and they work hard. There aren’t a whole lot of negatives with this group. It’s really exciting to be working with them.”
The Blue Devils have one of the nation’s top players in sophomore Celine Boutier, who has compiled a 70.67 stroke average and won her two most recent tournaments, the Bryan National Collegiate and the PING/ASU Invitational.
Boutier tied for sixth at the ACC Tournament last year as a freshman. A Montrouge, France, native, Boutier said she worked on her strength in the offseason in order to get more length off the tee.
“Celine is one of the hardest workers on the team,” said Brooks, in his 30th year as Duke’s coach. “She is extremely determined. She is somebody who really wants it. She has the idea that she has to work really hard to make it.”
An even younger Duke star is also a threat to win the ACC individual championship this week. Freshman Yu Liu of Beijing, China, carries a 71.6 stroke average that’s tied for first in the ACC. She’s been in the top 10 of all seven of her tournaments this season, including four top-five finishes. She won the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Seniors Laetitia Beck and Alejandra Cangrejo helped Duke to its ACC titles the last two seasons. A native of Israel, Beck placed second in the ACC last season for her second ACC top-10 finish. Her stroke average is 72.21 this season.
Cangrejo, from Bogota, Colombia, already has finished tied for third and second at the ACC Tournament in her career. Her stroke average this season is 75.72.
Freshman Sandy Choi, a Korea native who grew up in San Diego, wraps up Duke’s talented, international squad.
As a team, Duke has tournament wins at the Tar Heel Invitational, Darius Rucker Intercollegiate and the Bryan National Collegiate. The Blue Devils placed second April 4-6 at the PING/Arizona State Invitational at Tempe, Ariz. While South Carolina won the event, Duke finished 13 strokes ahead of a UCLA team they expect to see again at the NCAAs.
But before reaching that challenge, the Blue Devils are eying yet another ACC championship first.
“I think we can do something great,” Boutier said. “We are pretty confident about the rest of the season.”
Other Duke Notes:
• Overall, Duke has won the ACC Championship in 1984, ‘85, ‘93, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98, ‘99, 2000, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, ’07, ’08, ’12, ‘13.
• Eleven different Blue Devils have claimed individual honors at the ACC Championship— Mary Anne Widman (1984), Evelyn Orley (1985), Kathi Poppmeier (1994), Jenny Chuasiriporn (1996 & 1997), Beth Bauer (1999), Maria Garcia-Estrada (2000), Virada Nirapathpongporn (2001), Candy Hannemann (2002), Brittany Lang (2004 & 2005), Blumenherst (2006, 2007 & 2008), Lindy Duncan (2012).
• Brooks is in his 30th season with the Blue Devils. He is a 12-time ACC Coach of the Year selection and has led Duke to an NCAA-record 117 victories. Brooks has guided the Blue Devils to NCAA Championships in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
• A Blue Devil individual has claimed medalist honors at each of the last three events in which Duke has competed.
A LOOK AT THE TOURNAMENT & UNC TAR HEELS
When: Thur.-Sat., April 17-19
Tournament: Atlantic Coast Conference Championships
Where: Greensboro, N.C.
Course: Sedgefield Country Club, Par 71, 6,107 yards
NEXT ON THE TEE
North Carolina travels to Greensboro to compete in the ACC Championships at Sedgefield Country Club which features a par 71, 6,107-yard layout, with 11 teams competing for the conference title. Tee times begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday and Friday while there will be an 8:30 start, split tee format, for Saturday's final round. In Thursday's first round, the Tar Heels will begin play at 9:40 a.m. Live scoring will be available on both GoHeels.com and Golfstat.com.
Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Virginia and Wake Forest
TAR HEEL LINEUP
Elizabeth Mallett, Sophomore, Sutton Coldfield, England
Jackie Chang, Senior, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Leslie Cloots, Freshman, Antwerp, Belgium
Katherine Perry, Senior, Cary, N.C.
Maia Schechter, Junior, Takoma Park, Md.