Duke is looking to build on a near-comeback in its season-opening event as the Blue Devils head west this weekend.
The Blue Devils will travel to Nashville, Tenn., to take part in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup. Taking place from Friday to Sunday, the tournament will have Duke matching up with some of the best golfers in the ACC and the SEC.
The Blue Devils have traveled down to the Collegiate Challenge Cup the past two years and have not fared as well as head coach Jamie Green would have hoped, finishing ninth and 11th in 2013 and 2014, respectively. But Duke is relatively young from top to bottom—freshmen Alex Smalley and Shrish Dwivedi and junior Matt Oshrine are new to Durham and the only senior on the team, Motin Yeung, is not traveling with the squad in the fall.
“There is no scar tissue because it is a different team,” Green said. “60 percent of our lineup has never seen a collegiate golf course before.”
Green pointed to one of those fresh faces—Oshrine—as one of the squad's leaders in the early part of the season. A transfer from Loyola and a Pikesville, Md., native, Oshrine was named to the First-Team in the Patriot League last season and earned a top-10 finish in his Duke debut at the Rod Myers Invitational two weekends ago.
“We don’t have any seniors traveling right now,” Green said. “So our strongest guys have been Matt, our transfer junior, and freshmen and sophomores.”
One of those strong sophomores, Adam Wood, was the major reason Duke almost made a furious comeback on the back nine at the Rod Myers Invitational. The Zionsville, Ind. native played bogey-free golf on the back nine to pace Duke to a seven-over 295 in the final round. The Blue Devils trailed tournament leader Wake Forest by as many as eight strokes before rallying to tie and making the Demon Deacons make a birdie putt on the 18th hole to win.
“Adam is extremely organized,” Green said. “When he comes out to practice he has a four-hour regimen that he goes through. He wants his habits to stay sharp and it shows.”
Although Wood almost single-handedly willed the Blue Devils to victory, the tournament—which was hosted at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club right on Duke’s campus—provided a good warm-up for the rest of the regular season.
“It was a good tournament for everybody,” Green said. “We didn’t walk away with a victory, but we did beat 12 other teams and we had a lot of guys play close to their potential and, for me, that is what we are looking for.... We had a couple of days [this week] to regroup and iron out some issues."
After playing qualifying rounds this week and determining the lineup for this weekend's event in Nashville, the Blue Devils forgot about the previous tournament and began to mentally and physically prepare for the Collegiate Challenge Cup.
“The last couple days we knew what the lineup was and we really honed in individually,” Smith said. “This is not a sport where the guys are passing the ball to each other. They are out there on their own and confidence is huge.”
The Blue Devils will play their first two rounds Friday at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and will return Saturday at 10 a.m. for the third round. If a Duke player advances to the Championship Round, match play begins at 9 a.m. Sunday.
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