Story by Chris Graham
Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst was ready for the Atlantic Coast Conference golf championships – with a little help from a famous Tar Heel.
“We had heard that he was out there playing, and so we were all really excited,” said Blumenherst, a freshman who won the individual women’s title at the ACC tournament held at Pinehurst earlier this month as the Blue Devils took home their 14th team title in the event’s 18-year history.
was Michael Jordan, who happened to be making the rounds of the Duke University Golf Club on April 10 when Blumenherst and teammates Anna Grzebien and Liz Janangelo were getting ready to tee off for a pre-ACCs practice round.
For Blumenherst, who lists Jordan as her favorite athlete in an entry in the team media guide, it was almost enough just to get a glimpse of His Airness.
“We saw him come up 18 – and we were like, Oh, too bad we couldn’t talk to him or anything. And so we teed off, and then we looked back on the putting green, and sure enough, he’s hitting behind us,” Blumenherst told the “ACC Nation” radio show last week.
“He was in a cart with one of his buddies, so we asked him if he wanted to play through, because we were walking – and he was like, ‘No, I want to play against you girls,’ ” Blumenherst said.
Blumenherst, for the record, passed the girl stage in her first college tournament at Vanderbilt last fall – which she won with an 8-under par 208 en route to an impressive five-stroke win.
“That first tournament, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Blumenherst said.
“I’d played junior golf, and did well there, but nothing spectacular. I wasn’t ranked number one or anything. But I had a good game, solid. And when I came to college, I had more time to practice and more time to work out – and even more time to sleep. So I was able to fine-tune my game – and I won my first college tournament. And after that, it has kept building, and I’ve been playing well all year,” Blumenherst said.
Her hot streak continued at Pinehurst – where Blumenherst dominated from start to finish as she posted a 4-under 212 to take top honors by seven shots.
“The first day, I just went out and played my game – one shot, one hole at a time. I wasn’t super-nervous or anything. Just the normal butterflies. After the first day, I had a four-shot lead. And the second day, same thing, I just went out to play the course, one shot, one hole at a time, and after the second day, I had an eight-shot lead. After that, it felt a little bit like smooth sailing,” Blumenherst said.
would also describe her 18 with Jordan – she shot a 3-under 69 to better the basketball legend by six shots.
Which isn’t to say that Jordan let Blumenherst or her teammates off easy.
“He had a North Carolina golf bag. And every time we’d be over a putt, he’d be like, ‘I’m sure a North Carolina girl could make that putt.’ He definitely tried to put it in our face a little. We just tried to awe him with our game, I guess, and shut him up a little,” Blumenherst said.
As for her assessment of Jordan’s golf game – “I was actually very impressed,” she said.
“I thought, you know, big guy, he’s going to try to kill it and be all over the place. But I don’t think he missed one fairway. He was straight – he hit the ball kind of low, but solid. I was impressed – he probably shot about 75 or so,” Blumenherst said.