Jake Grodzinsky stood over his eight-foot putt Monday afternoon, needing to sink it to secure a one-stroke victory for the No. 7 Blue Devils at the Duke Golf Classic. The junior, ranked 10th in the country, drilled the putt and solidified his presence on the national stage.
"Jake has done a great job so far," head coach Rod Myers said. "I just think he has taken his game to a whole new level. And that level puts him into the All-American category."
Grodzinsky, who finished fifth, had left himself 20 yards in front of the green after his second shot. Knowing that his score would determine Duke's outcome, he hit a pitch shot-one Myers described as "beautiful"-that came to rest eight feet from the pin.
His key contribution, however, may not have come on the final hole, but on the difficult 17th. He made a birdie on the 441-yard par 4, which played as the second-hardest for the tournament. It was one of only 12 such marks on the hole.
Even though Grodzinsky's efforts may have been the most timely, every member of the team contributed to the win. Senior Ryan Blaum, who nearly sat out the tournament because of a strained back muscle, added three rounds under par and finished in an eighth-place tie.
"Ryan really showed his mettle this weekend," Myers said. "He did all of the things you expect from a player like Ryan Blaum."
After shooting a 73 in the morning round, sophomore Michael Schachner carded a team-low 68 in round two and ended the day in a tie for 10th. He was four-over par in round three and finished in 23rd place, but made a crucial par putt on the 18th hole to have his 76 count for Duke.
Senior Nathan Smith played solidly through the first two rounds, matching Blaum and Schachner at three under in 10th place. He struggled in Monday's round, however, notching a five-over 77.
"It felt really good to have a whole team victory," Myers said. "We didn't have to get carried by anyone. Everyone helped out."
Sophomore Michael Quagliano had the weakest tournament of the starting five, but he also made a key par putt on the 18th hole. After shooting a 74 Sunday morning, Quagliano recorded two consecutive four-over 76s.
The Blue Devils appeared to have a slight advantage because the tournament was played on their home course at the Washington Duke Golf Club. But Blaum believes that Monday's rainy weather may have altered conditions enough to eliminate Duke's advantage.
"You could almost say it was a disadvantage," Blaum said. "The poor weather totally changed the golf course from what we were accustomed to all year."
Three Blue Devils not in the starting five also competed in the tournament. Freshman Clark Klaasen played the most impressively of the three, firing a round of 71 and two of 73 and finishing in 23rd place. Had he been playing for the team, all three of his scores would have counted toward the team score. Senior Alex Wilson tied for 33rd.
"I was very impressed with Clark Klaasen," Grodzinsky said. "I thought the individuals were more exciting than the team."
Coastal Carolina's Dustin Johnson ran away with the individual tournament, beating the field by seven strokes. With three consecutive rounds of 67, Johnson finished 15-under par.
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