On the short drive back from the Tar Heel Intercollegiate Tournament held at the Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C., Blue Devil head coach Jamie Green told his team about a question he was asked in an interview after their showing on Saturday.
The interviewer asked Green if he was depending on anyone on the team in particular to be the real closer on Sunday. When Green told his team the story and asked them to guess what his response was, they all laughed—the answer was obvious.
“All of our guys are closers,” Green said.
Green knew that this would put a chip on the team’s shoulder. Everyone would be depended upon to finish the tournament strong, nothing would simply be given to them.
“I wanted to make the point that no one is going to give you the trophy,” Green said. “You have to go out there and keep the pedal down.”
On Saturday, Duke found itself atop the leader board with a comfortable lead at nine-under par after two rounds of play, followed by North Carolina and Charlotte, who sat tied for second at 1-under par.
Despite wet conditions, the Blue Devils played a solid round Sunday to win the tournament, finishing the day just 1-over par. The Blue Devils finished 8-under par, followed by the Tar Heels in second place at 2-under par and the 49ers in third place at nine-over par. Charlotte struggled on Sunday, finishing the day at 10-over par.
Green said he was very happy with his team’s performance in the opening tournament of the season, but made it clear that there is always room for improvement.
“Any time you walk away from a tournament and grab a trophy, it’s going to help your confidence,” Green said. “But our guys at the same time recognized that they need to look at their performances individually and see that there are still a few things that each of them need to do better.... That’s what drives you, that you can be successful and walk away with a win and still know you can keep getting better and not be complacent.”
Green praised freshmen Motin Yeung and Mads Sogaard for poised performances in their collegiate debuts. Sogaard finished the highest of all Duke players in the tournament as he tied for fourth with a three-round 213, just eight shots off of the winner, Albin Choi of N. C. State. Yeung, who recorded a pair of under-par rounds Saturday, finished the tournament tied with senior teammate Brinson Polini, for sixth place at 2-under par.
“[Motin] did what Motin does well,” Green said. “He is very calm, he’s got a great demeanor on the golf course. He doesn’t play outside of himself. It was really great to see [Yeung and Sogaard] do so well in the first tournament out of the gate—what a great thing for them to build on.”
Two other Blue Devils finished in the top 15. Seniors Julian Suri and Adam Sumrall tied for 10th and 12th respectively. The 10th-place finish marks Suri’s 14th career top-10 finish.
Duke looks to build upon a strong start to the season when it hits the links again Sept. 30 at the Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields, Ill.