Hoping to start the spring season on a good foot, the Blue Devils succumbed to unfamiliar greens and a penal layout en route to a disappointing finish in San Diego.
After ending the first day of The Farms Collegiate Invite in second place, Duke dropped three spots on the leaderboard during Tuesday’s final round to finish fifth with a 23-over-par total of 887. The Blue Devils, led by sophomore Motin Yeung’s third-place finish, ended the 54-hole tournament 27 shots behind champion San Diego after starting the final day just three shots off the lead.
“We would have liked to get a good three-round, complete tournament in, and we are certainly disappointed with the way things went today,” head coach Jamie Green said. “We had a few good rounds, and certainly one good performance from one player, but we also had a lot of hiccups.”
The Toreros hosted the Invite at The Farms, a narrow 6,947 yard, par-72 layout situated north of the city of San Diego. The track features poa greens, a type of grass unique to more temperate climates and one that is notoriously difficult for golfers who are unfamiliar with putting on it. Inconsistent ball striking led to big numbers as players found hazards rather than the short stuff, and a lack of confidence on the greens led to a number of three- and four-putts for Duke.
“The poa greens are a good bit different than what we are used to,” Green said. “When you doubt yourself on putting greens, that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Yeung used superb ball striking to provide a bright spot for Duke by following up his three-under-par Monday total of 141 with a final round 72 to finish just three strokes off the winning individual total. A handful of course-management errors and missed chances on the greens prevented the Beijing native from firing even lower numbers.
“He gave himself enough chances that he just wasn’t going to be over par,” Green said of Yeung. “He just wore down the golf course tee-to-green to the point where he was going to have a good round each day.”
After a strong 36 holes Monday, freshman Alexander Matlari had a less successful final day, falling 18 spots from his sixth-place position at the start of the final round due to a final round score of 81. Matlari’s classmate, Max Greyserman, ended the tournament tied for 39th after stringing together three rounds in the mid-70’s to finish with a five-over-par 228.
Teammates Turner Southey-Gordon and Michael Ricaurte rounded out Duke’s team, coming in at 59th and 63rd, respectively. Struggling with his accuracy off the tee on the Farms’ tight layout, Southey-Gordon got off to a shaky start Monday morning with an 84, then managed to play his final 36 holes only eight strokes over par to finish with 54-hole total of 236. Ricaurte, in contrast, started strong with a two-under 70 in the first round before faltering with an 86 Monday afternoon and an 81 Tuesday to end the tournament at 21-over-par.
Duke now has a month until its next tournament, the General Jim Hackler Championship at TPC Myrtle Beach March 10-11.