Duke dominated the final round of the Fighting Illini Invitational Monday, topping some of the nation's best teams on its way to winning its first title of the season.
The ninth-ranked Blue Devils fired a collective 6-over-par and shot 24-over par 864 for the tournament-six shots ahead of second-place Stanford and 12 shots in front of No. 1 Oklahoma State, which finished in fifth.
"We're very excited," head coach Rod Myers said. "This was a huge win for us. The guys did an excellent job today to come out and beat the best team in the country."
Perhaps even more exciting was the play of freshman Adam Long, who finished in second-only one stroke behind Arizona St.'s Niklas Lemke-in the first tournament of his college career.
Long shot a 2-over 212 over 56 holes, carding seven birdies, 40 pars and nothing higher than a bogey for the entire tournament.
"You would have thought he was a senior out there. He handled himself with a lot of poise and confidence. He was just going right after it," Myers said. "[Adam] told me these are the situations he feels the best in-on difficult courses when the pressure is the highest."
From the marks on his scorecard to his lack of regard for the leaderboard, it seemed as if the freshman didn't feel any pressure at all.
"I honestly never looked at the leaderboard very much-I just knew how I was doing from what my dad was telling me," Long said. "I had no idea how many shots I was behind. I was just out there trying to do my best. I didn't want to play poorly for the team's sake, I just wanted to play well and do my part."
Long also had a lot of help from his teammates.
Junior Michael Schachner, an Illinois native, has been the most consistent Blue Devil this season and he maintained his level of solid play this weekend in front of friends and family.
Schachner went 1-over par in each of his three rounds and parred 15 out of the last 18 holes of the tournament to finish in a four-way tie for third place.
"He has really stepped up for us," Myers said. "We look for that kind of leadership as much as anything in golf-leadership by example on the course. He really ground it out out there. That's what this golf course demanded-to stay focused and work for every par."
Finding leadership on the links was a preseason concern for Duke, which lost its most accomplished player in its program's history, Ryan Blaum, to graduation last year. Yet, Schachner is becoming increasingly more comfortable in taking on that role.
"There's times when I look around, and it's hard for me to believe I'm a junior," Schachner said. "I felt like last year I went out and played just to contribute to the team. Now, I feel like I'm going out and trying to set the tone for the other guys-I like it."
Schachner wasn't the only veteran Blue Devil who came through Monday. Senior Jake Grodzinsky was also crucial to the Duke team victory. After going 14-over in the first two rounds, Grodzinsky fired a 1-under-par 69 to finish tied for 28th place, moving 22 spots up the leaderboard on the final day. He was one of only three players to break 70 over the final 18 holes.
"There are a lot of things you can point to, but Jake's round today was huge," Myers said.
And if Schachner is the leader on the course, Grodzinsky is the leader off it.Long attributes much of his comfort both with the team and on the course to Grodzinsky, saying the senior is always joking and keeping him loose.
"I had a lot of fun, from the time we left campus to sitting in the airport waiting to go back," Long said.
But the trip from Durham to Chicago and back probably can't compare to Monday's trip from the first hole to the last for the freshman phenom.
"He got out there and birdied the first hole and then just played terrifically all the way through. You can't say enough about Adam Long," Myers said. "He comes out here and plays his first tournament and the only guy who beat him had to shoot a 66 to do it."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.