EUGENE, ORE. – Duke Blue Devils golfer Virginia Elena Carta posted a record 54-hole mark and helped her team to climb into a tie for second place at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship Tournament at Eugene Country Club on Sunday.
Carta, from Udine, Italy, shattered the NCAA 54-hole record finishing with rounds of 69, 68 and 66 – carding an impressive 13-under-par 203.
The previous mark was a nine-under-par 207 held by Grace Park of Arizona State (1998), Jennifer Rosales of Southern California (1998), Virada Nirapathpongporn of Duke (2002), and Annie Park of Southern California (2013).
“I’m feeling really good,” Carta said.
“I actually didn’t get it the first time they told me [about the record], but now that I know, it’s awesome; but the next 18 holes are going to be tough. You never know how other players on the course are going to play. I’m excited. I’m pretty happy with my game.”
The Duke rookie holds a six-stroke lead heading into Monday’s final day of play followed by Miami’s Dewi Weber (209), Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight (209) and Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho (209).
If Carta holds on, she would become the fourth Blue Devils golfer to win the NCAA individual title as Candy Hannemann (2001), Nirapathpongporn (2002), and Anna Grzebien (2005) came before her.
Coincidentally, Grzebien’s win, the last for a Duke golfer, came about in the state of Oregon as well.
“I just think it is great,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks said of Carta breaking the NCAA record.
“There have been a lot of great players to play in this tournament and for her to have a record as a freshman – wow, very impressive.”
For the second consecutive day, Duke finished with three golfers in red numbers as Carta was joined by Leona Maguire and Sandy Choi who each finished with a one-under 71, while sophomore Gurbani Singh collected her best round of the spring season with an even-par 72.
As a team, Duke shot a team-best eight-under-par 280 for the third round and moved into a tie for second along with UCLA at 862 overall.
Southern California held a two-stroke lead over the Bruins and Blue Devils.
Duke’s round of 280 was the lowest since the Blue Devils carded a 278 and 274 in the third and fourth rounds of the 2014 NCAA tournament in Tulsa, Okla., where they won their sixth NCAA Championship.
“They showed a lot of poise out there, I guess is the word,” Brooks said.
“They were real calm, they just played their game. They were not panicked by that first day. Yesterday they were solid and today the same thing – just stayed real solid.”
The top 15 teams advancing to Monday’s final stroke play round included Southern California (860), UCLA (862), Duke (862), Washington (866), Stanford (868), Oregon (870), South Carolina (872), Virginia (873), Arizona (873), Northwestern (876), Oklahoma State (876), Arkansas (881), North Carolina (881), Alabama (882) and Florida State (883).
Carta and the Blue Devils begin the fourth round teeing off alongside USC and UCLA.
Following the end of stroke play, the top eight teams will advance to match play.
Golf Channel will provide televised coverage of the final round from 7-10 p.m. (ET).