Blue Devils finish in 9th at NIT

Unable to overcome its stroke deficit from the first day of play, Duke finished in ninth place Tuesday at the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz.

Over their first nine holes, which were played on the back nine, the Blue Devils carded a collective 14 bogeys-leaving them at 9-over heading into the final stretch of play.

Duke fired back on the front nine, however, posting 14 birdies and one eagle.

Senior Jake Grodzinsky led the charge with four birdies and carded a 3-under 69-his best round of the tournament and the team's best of the day.

After his solid third-round performance, Grodzinsky moved up 23 spots on the leaderboard and into 43rd place.

"I'm proud of how [the team] finished strong," interim head coach Brad Sparling said. "They were all fighting and battling. It was a really hard week emotionally and physically. They were tired and didn't have much left in the tank."

The Blue Devils shot a 6-over 870 for the tournament, with sophomore Clark Klaasen completing his round as Duke's top finisher in a tie for 29th place.

Freshmen Jeff Edelman and Adam Long finished in a tie for 34th after both carding 4-over 74s Tuesday and going 3-over in their three rounds of play.

Overall, Sparling was much more pleased with the Blue Devils' performance in Round 3 than he was after the first day's action, when he felt the team was making too many mental errors and course-management mistakes.

"They did a much better job of making decisions-of what shots to hit and where-and that paid off in better scores," Sparling said.

Duke was able to play more consistently from hole to hole than it had in the first two rounds, and no Blue Devil recorded anything higher than a bogey Tuesday.

"We just played better today," junior Michael Schachner said. "There were only a couple holes that gave us trouble yesterday, and we played those better."

The team will take a few days off before returning to practice, when the players will focus in on their short games, Sparling said.


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