Duke needed a stellar round Sunday to overcome a deficit to one of the best teams in the nation playing on its own home turf, but finished with just a few strokes too many for the third time in as many events.

The No. 10 Blue Devils turned in a 15-over-par score of 855 en route to a second-place finish at the SunTrust Gator Invitational, marking the third consecutive top-three finish for the team. After playing 36 holes Saturday at 12-over-par, Duke began Sunday’s final round in second place with a seven-shot deficit to tournament host and No. 6 Florida. 

But the Gators’ home course advantage at Mark Bostick Golf Course—combined with an extraordinary final-round performance from senior Maria Torres—made it difficult for the Blue Devils to challenge Florida, which ultimately won by eight strokes in Gainesville, Fla.

“We finished second, which they’re not going to be happy with, but I thought they did a good job,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks said. “None of them have seen that golf course. It’s a unique course, a Donald Ross design, and it’s a course you need to play a few times to really be able to play at your best…. I think a little more course knowledge might have helped us.”

With junior Leona Maguire atop the individual leaderboard to begin Sunday following rounds of 71 and 67, it looked as if another low round could help her both squeeze out an individual victory and be the difference-maker in the Blue Devils’ remaining quest for their first stroke-play victory of the season.

Maguire did not make any big mistakes during her Sunday round of 69, but rather continued the steady, consistent play that allowed her to lead the field in pars with 44 in 54 holes. The Cavan, Ireland, native even had a stretch of 24 holes without a bogey at one point—which ended when she bogeyed the par-4 fourth hole Sunday—but struggled during the final round to get birdie chances to drop, notching just two red numbers during her last 18 holes.

“I mentioned that to her today that I saw situations where her ball just lipped the cup. On a chip, on several putts, had they fallen in it would have changed the outcome and her response was, ‘You only saw some of them,’” Brooks said. “She’s getting pars, and not all those pars are just sitting there ready to be pars. A lot of them are ready to be birdies and that’s a lot of frustration. Good players, the best players, have to deal with that a lot.”

As Maguire struggled to make birdies and finished in second place, the Gators’ Torres came up clutch for her team, carding four birdies in her final nine holes to shoot 66 on the par-70 course and capture the individual title.

Just below Maguire on the leaderboard for the Blue Devils, junior Gurbani Singh posted her third top-seven finish of the year with a 5-over-par total, highlighted by a second-round 69. The New Delhi native has shown a dramatic improvement in play since late in the fall, as she has notched three top-seven results or better in her last four starts. Prior to that stretch, she had finished in seventh place or better just twice in 17 career starts.

Ana Belac made the most significant turnaround between Saturday’s rounds and her final 18 holes, improving by four strokes Sunday compared to her opening-day scoring average. After making just one combined birdie against seven bogeys-or-worse during the contest’s first 36 holes, the freshman notched answered three Sunday bogeys with three birdies to finish at level par on the day and 8-over-par overall.

“That’s not very many birdies yesterday, but three is a good, regular, standard number for today,” Brooks said. “But, yesterday was her learning day. It was just, you’re not going to get a lot of birdies on this golf course.”

Despite her senior status, Sandy Choi made her first ever start at Mark Bostick Golf Course as the team competed there for the first time since 2012. Choi finished in a tie for 11th to notch her third consecutive top-15 start after posting to rounds of 73, 73 and 71.

Sophomore Virginia Elena Carta finished in a tie for 27th in her first event since having her tonsils removed recently—a procedure which forced her to sit out of last weekend’s Darius Rucker Invitational. Carta, along with Choi, was one of two Duke players to not post a round of par or better as the Udine, Italy, native opened with rounds of 77 and 74 and leveled just one lone birdie on the 17th hole against four bogeys to shoot a 73 Sunday.

“I think she did great for somebody who’s just had her tonsils out,” Brooks said.

Lisa Maguire also made the trip to Gainesville to compete as an individual and tied for 69th with rounds of 77, 76 and 82.

The Donald Ross track’s greens are designed such that balls frequently roll to the outer edges of the green and sometimes spill off the putting surface altogether when coming to rest after approach shots, which Brooks said was particularly challenging for his players.

“Other greens are either flat or they kind of sometimes work toward the middle but these things are always spilling off,” Brooks said. “So it feels like your ball is always trying to get off the green and you have to know where to land it, so I know that we had some really quite good shots—not great shots—but good shots that wound up in rough spots.”

The Blue Devils will have two weeks off before returning to competition for the LSU Tiger Golf Classic March 24-26 in Baton Rouge, La.