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Blue Devils fire low to take home title

One week after finishing in a disappointing tie for 10th place at 70-over par, No. 12 Duke recovered to win the Courtyard Marriott Intercollegiate this weekend in Holly Springs, N.C. with a 16-under 560. Wake Forest and Georgia Southern both finished one stroke behind the Blue Devils in the rain-shortened event that included four teams in the top 20.

“I was concerned about how last weekend would affect us,” head coach Rod Myers said. “It looks like our boys did an outstanding job of regrouping. We got a really nice team performance.”

Michael Schachner and Ryan Blaum led the way for the Blue Devils, each recording a top-five finish. Schachner notched back-to-back 68s on his way to a second-place tie at eight under, four strokes behind individual winner Aron Price of Georgia Southern. The freshman excelled on the par fives, shooting four under on the six longest holes throughout the weekend.

“This was definitely my best performance,” Schachner said. “I’m really happy with my game right now. I think the whole team is starting to come around.”

Blaum, ranked 15th nationally, finished one stroke behind Schachner in a tie for fourth with rounds of 69 and 68. He recorded four birdies in his first six holes and reached six-under by the 13th hole before giving two strokes back and ending at four-under par.

Nathan Smith, ranked 24th, did not have his best tournament but played solidly, delivering a three-under par performance and finishing in a tie for 11th place. In Friday’s round, the junior played consistently. After bogeying his second hole, Smith delivered 13 pars and four birdies on his way to a 69.

“Nate played really well [Friday],” Myers said. “He was a little frustrated with his second round because he never really got anything going.”

In his round Saturday, Smith bogeyed his first hole and double-bogeyed his fifth hole. He fired two birdies in his final seven holes, however, to finish at even par.

Sophomore Jake Grodzinsky had a more tumultuous tournament but kept his composure to finish at two over in a tie for 33rd. Friday, Grodzinsky was even after 16 holes, but carded a six on the following par three and ultimately finished the day at two-over par. In the second round, the sophomore got down to two-under before giving two strokes back and ending the day even.

“Jake’s 72 was really important,” Myers said. “He made a couple of big ups-and-downs for par. It was a really solid performance.”

Freshman Michael Quagliano was the only Blue Devil to struggle in both rounds. He recorded several birdies throughout the two days but notched three double-bogeys and numerous bogeys that prevented him from scoring low. His tournament got off to a difficult start, when after five holes he was five-over par.

“We need to get Quagliano a little more comfortable,” Myers said. “He’s an awfully good player and played awfully well last fall. We’re looking for an exciting week from him at the ACCs.”

Duke hopes to carry its momentum from this weekend’s win into the ACC Championship beginning Friday in Baden Lake, N.C.

“The guys are really looking forward to the ACCs,” Myers said. “We’ve been successful against most of the teams except for Georgia Tech. They’re the team to beat this weekend.”

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