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Final-round blunders hurt Blue Devil finish

The only thing more erratic than the weather at the Isleworth-UCF Collegiate Invitational was the play of Duke, which finished 13th in the tournament after shooting 26-over par in its final round.

When the Blue Devils arrived in Windermere, Fla., they were welcomed by stifling 90-degree heat.

When they teed-off Tuesday, hoping to make ground after their lackluster performances in the first two rounds, they faced temperatures in the 40s and strong winds.

"We were looking to make a bit of a comeback today," freshman Adam Long said. "But, it's tough to get up for those kinds of conditions."

Long did his part to try to fuel that comeback. The freshman fired 3-over-par 75 for the day and finished 5-over par for the tournament, leaving him in a tie for 10th place and five strokes back of winner Brian Harman of Georgia.

Yet, as a team, Duke continued its inconsistent play and was plagued by more bad shots than it could overcome.

"We didn't seem to be able to get anything going," head coach Rod Myers said. "We'd get one good hole and then someone would hit a double or a triple bogey and we'd be out of it again. This was probably as frustrating a day we've had in the past year.

"We thought we'd be able to have a chance at closing in on a good, strong field, and then we let everybody go by."

In the first two rounds of play, the Blue Devils were able to rebound from their poor starts by shooting well over their second nine to stay in contention. But Tuesday, Duke dropped so far that it ended up finishing 29 strokes behind winner Texas.

With 18 bogeys, nine double bogeys and two triples during the third round, Duke had no chance to make a run up the leaderboard.

Michael Schachner, who has been one of Duke's most consistent players, went 7-over for the day after going 4-over in the first two rounds combined. Both Jake Grodzinsky and Michael Quagliano shot 8-over-par 80 for the day.

Sophomore Clark Klaasen carded a 10-over, 82, and posted the Blue Devil's worst score for the third consecutive round.

"One of the things you realize on a day like today is that you're not ready to play on the PGA tour," Myers said. "In the wind, you've really got to be able to control the trajectory of your ball flight and get really good shots on the green."

His team's inability to keep its focus throughout its rounds was a concern all week for Myers. The Blue Devils will need to regroup quickly before boarding a plane Friday for the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We may be better off to forget this round than anything else," Myers said.

Perhaps the rest of the roster can take a few pointers from the freshman Long, whose confidence and poise on the course continues to impress Myers.

"When I get on the first tee, I feel like I'm going to play well," Long said. "As a team, we've had two mediocre tournaments in a row. For match play, we need to be more confident. I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing, keep practicing the way I've been practicing, and try to get these guys more enthusiastic."


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