Duke men's golf struggles at Collegiate Challenge Cup
Briana Siracuse / Chronicle File Photo
The Blue Devils found this out the hard way and experienced some growing pains in their second start of the season.
No. 13 Duke struggled during the 54-hole stroke-play portion of the Collegiate Challenge Cup in Kingston, Tenn., finishing ninth out of 10 teams after a brutal final 18 holes in which the team shot 29-over-par. The Blue Devils finished the stroke-play portion of the event at 45-over-par and were only able to record two rounds under par for the week at the par-71 Golf Club of Tennessee.
"We had a few guys that were hitting it into trouble and having to scramble," head coach Jamie Green said. "Once you hit it outside the rough line, the tall fescue, weeds and brush are so thick that you might not find it, and if you do find it, there's not a lot you can do with it. Unfortunately, that's why some big numbers popped up."
Duke was led by junior Turner Southey-Gordon, who used a second-round, two-under-par 69 to finish at six-over-par, tied for 26th out of 50 individual competitors.
Sophomore Motin Yeung recorded the only other under-par round for the Blue Devils, shooting a first-round 68 that left him tied for third place before finishing the tournament tied for 32nd at 10-over-par. It was Yeung's first start of the season for the team after winning a silver medal with the Hong Kong national team at the China's National Games during the team's first tournament of the season.
"He got off to a nice start," Green said. "He generally can drive it pretty straight, keep the ball in play and give himself a lot of birdie opportunities. He didn't put pressure on himself [in the first round]. He positioned his golf ball well and capitalized on a couple of opportunities."
The other major component of the Collegiate Challenge Cup was a match play portion based on the stroke-play results in which an ACC team took on an SEC team. Duke was pitted against Vanderbilt for match play and played better golf during this part of the event, even though the team won only one of its five matches.
"We got off to a pretty good start [in match play]," Green said. " We were in a better frame of mind. In each of our matches, guys were up. They went out there with a very good mindset, were determined and played okay golf. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a rough stretch in the middle of the round. Vanderbilt's guys capitalized on that. In match play, you can't control the other guy and the players from Vanderbilt just made a few more putts."
Senior Yaroslav Merkulov was the lone Blue Devil to win his match, defeating Spencer Ciesla and rebounding from a final-round 81 that knocked him into a tie for 36th in stroke-play.
"He chipped it and pitched it a lot better [in match-play]," Green said. "He also put a lot less stress on his game. He didn't try to hit heroic shots and challenge himself where the margin of error was too small. He used [the final round of stroke-play] as a learning experience."
All of the Blue Devils will look to use this learning experience to get better in practice before they host the Rod Myers Invitational on October 12th and 13th at Duke University Golf Club.
"We'll see how we respond," Green said. "This is a good, hard-working group, but we've got to to be able to translate the practice time and what they're doing into tournament play."