A difficult fall on the course--one win at the Hooters Collegiate Match Play and no finish in three stroke-play tournaments better than a fifth place--has turned into an even more stressful winter off it for coach Dan Brooks and the Duke women with news today that freshman Mina Harigae, the 2007 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champion, has left school to concentrate on her game with an eye on playing professionally later in 2009. (Busy week out of Durham, N.C., huh?!?)
"I enjoyed playing college golf and Duke is a wonderful place, but I have decided I need to focus more on golf and my goal of turning professional," said Harigae in a press release. "I have not decided when I will turn professional but I plan on doing so by the end of the summer."
The 19-year-old from Monterey, Calif., a member of the 2008 U.S. Curtis Cup team, played in three fall events for the Blue Devils, posting a T-14 and T-5 finish in two stroke-play tournaments and having a team-best 71.13 stroke average. Her play was good enough to earn a spot on Golf World's All-Freshmen team for the fall semester.
Harigae's departure leaves only five players on the active roster at Duke, which finished the fall ranked No. 7 in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll. Of the remaining players, only seniors Amanda Blumenherst (72.72) and Jennie Lee (72.0) finished the first half of the season with stroke averages lower than 75.45.
Duke opens the spring season at the Central District Invitational, Feb. 16-18.