The Blue Devils held a team meeting the evening before Monday's opening round of the National Invitational Tournament at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.
Having already arrived in Arizona when it was announced Saturday that its head coach Rod Myers had passed away, the team focused on moving forward-which is exactly what Myers would have wanted, interim head coach Brad Sparling said.
"We talked last night about how everybody would be watching them today and how we had the chance to do something special," Sparling said.
When the Duke players teed off Monday morning, it looked as if they were about to do just that. Paced by freshman Adam Long, who carded four birdies and an eagle for a 3-under 69, the Blue Devils had four golfers at or under par for the first round.
Fellow freshman Jeff Edelman had three birdies over his last four holes to finish at 2-under and junior Michael Schachner and sophomore Clark Klaasen pitched in even-par-72 efforts to put Duke in a tie for third on the leaderboard.
"I was really proud of the guys, especially in the morning round," Sparling said. "They were out there playing their hearts out, and Coach would have been really proud of them."
The afternoon round did not go as smoothly, however, as the Blue Devils lost the focus that had made them so efficient just hours earlier and finished the day 7-over and in 10th place.
Sparling said the team made too many course-management mistakes mentally, citing the 16th hole as an example of why Duke struggled and its scores suffered in the second round.
"On 16, the flag was back and we had a couple guys go long," Sparling said. "With that pin location, if you go long, you're going to get bogey."
Edelman and Klaasen bogeyed the 16th, and Schachner carded a double-bogey.
Frustrations mounted for the Blue Devils as they continued to hit the wrong spots on the green, miss pins and sink drives into the water. Long fell from fourth to 24th place after bogeying 17 and double-bogeying 18 to end his day at 1-over.
Edelman joined his teammate in 24th place and is followed by Schachner, who shot 3-over for the day to put himself in a tie for 42nd. At the end of two rounds, Klaasen found himself in a tie for 49th.
Senior Jake Grodzinsky was the only Blue Devil to shoot a better second round than the first, going 2-over in the afternoon to complete the day at 7-over.
"We made too many bad decisions and we have to talk about that tonight," Sparling said. "All five guys just lost focus, but we will play better tomorrow and score a lot better as a result, too."
The Blue Devils will resume play tomorrow just after 8 a.m. PST.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.