WGOLF ACC
Head coach Dan Brooks led the Blue Devils to another ACC championship this spring.

The Chronicle's top 10 sports stories of 2017: Both men's and women’s golf take ACC titles



With the end of 2017 quickly approaching, The Chronicle's sports department takes a look back at the biggest sports stories of the year. Each day, The Blue Zone will review a major game, event or storyline that helped shape the course of the year in Blue Devil athletics.

Coming in at No. 8 on our list: Both men and women’s golf take ACC titles

Head coach Jamie Green has produced a men’s golf program that contends for conference titles every year.

Even that pales in comparison to women’s head coach Dan Brooks’ dynasty, which has won 20 of the last 34 ACC titles.  

But they both came out on top in the ACC tournament in 2017. 

The men's squad rebounded from a rough patch in the middle of the ACC championship to take home the hardware in Clinton, S.C. April 22, while Brooks’ team also held off a late surge from No. 4 Florida State to win the championship a week earlier in Pawleys Island, S.C. 

“We knew Florida State was going to push us to the very end,” star Leona Maguire said after taking home the individual title. “I knew it was going to take a hard rally down the stretch on the back nine. Give credit where credit is due to all the girls—we fought until the very end and managed to pull away.”

Maguire, the world’s No. 1 amateur, won the individual championship with a 6-under-par three-day total, including a first-round 68. Despite the Blue Devils seeing a nine-stroke lead vanish in the final round, Maguire’s final round 70 and strong play late helped them close the tournament 5-under-par to down the Seminoles by nine strokes.  

Every player in Duke's starting lineup finished in a tie for 17th or better. That included the Blue Devils’ lone senior Sandy Choi, who had struggled in her previous outing before finishing tied for fourth in the ACC championship. 

“Sandy has played her best golf at Duke when we’ve needed it most—she’s done it all four years,” Brooks said. “Nobody has seen this course before, so I thought they [all] did a great job.”

Although the Blue Devils were not able to sustain their strong play later, posting their worst single-round score in the NCAA Championship since 1983 to give them an early exit, they still picked up their fourth ACC title in six years, even after a spring filled with injuries and close calls. 

Green’s team had also struggled with consistency for much of the spring, but played its best golf of the year when it counted. Before finishing tied for 22nd in the NCAA championship, Duke finished in the top-5 of its final five events, including in its fourth ACC title since 1966. 

After a rough 12-over-par six-hole patch in the second round from Alexander Matlari, Chandler Eaton and Jake Shuman cut a commanding Duke lead nearly in half, the Blue Devils righted the ship. 

Then-No. 22 Duke played steady to prevent its 11-under-par first round from going to waste, finishing 14-under-par to down second-place No. 13 Clemson by 12 strokes. 

“At some point, you might hit a rough patch. We talked about just bouncing back and how to handle things in terms of staying focused on the shot that’s in front of you,” Green said. “It’s probably the most difficult thing to do in our game, letting go of whatever adversity or whatever not so great things had happened for you, but that just shows where they’ve been working really hard.”

After both teams combined to lose just four seniors, the prospects for the spring appear bright for the two squads—though a little brighter for the women’s team. 

Brooks’ team has lost just Choi and gets Maguire back for her senior year and finished the fall strong, winning the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational and Landfall Tradition, their final two events. 

On the other hand, the men's team graduated three contributors in Matlari, Matt Oshrine and Max Greyserman and had more of an up-and-down fall, twice fading in the final round to finish 10th and 11th in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate and Nike Collegiate Invitational, respectively. 

“To be the best team in the country, we have to continually work hard on the things we have control over,” Duke head coach Jamie Green told GoDuke.com after the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate. “I think in a lot of cases, we did that well.... Regardless of what happened, how, or why it happened in the final round of the last two tournaments, we’ve got a strong team and we will get stronger.”

READ MORE about the teams’ ACC titles and fall play: 

ACC champs: Duke men's golf catches fire in South Carolina for first conference crown since 2013

Leona Maguire wins second individual ACC championship as Duke women's golf captures record 20th team conference crown

Despite Maguire's second-place finish, Duke women's golf makes early exit at NCAA championship

Duke men's golf finishes tied for 22nd at NCAA championship, fails to advance to fourth round of stroke play

Belac finshes first as Duke women's golf captures Landfall Tradition title

Duke men's golf slips on final day for second straight tournament

Check back tomorrow to see what ranks as No. 7 in our countdown of the top 10 Duke sports stories of the year. 

A look at the rest of our top 10 countdown to date:

No. 10: Men's soccer makes first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011

No. 9: Duke softball play its first-ever game


Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Chronicle.