After finishing tied for 24th at last year's NCAA championship, the Blue Devils have their sights set on a better finish this season.
But to get back to the national championship, Duke will first have to navigate one of the most challenging courses in the country.
The No. 19 Blue Devils were awarded the No. 4 seed in the Stillwater, Okla., regional Thursday when the NCAA revealed this year's regional field on Golf Channel. Duke and three other ranked teams—top-seeded and No. 8 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Clemson and No. 20 Oklahoma—will headline the 14-team field at Karsten Creek Golf Club May 16-18, with the top five teams and lowest-scoring individual on a non-advancing team qualifying for the NCAA championship May 27-June 1 in Eugene, Ore.
“We’re excited to be headed out to Stillwater,” head coach Jamie Green said in a release. “[Assistant coach T.D.] Luten and I are so proud of our guys for what they’ve accomplished this year and the way they’ve improved day by day. Everyone wants to advance, and we have a lot of respect for every team in this championship. We know we have to play well to earn a top-five finish and advance to the national championship.”
Karsten Creek is a par-72 course that measures more than 7,400 yards and has been ranked among the best college courses in the nation. Although Duke has never played an NCAA regional there, the Blue Devils played in the NCAA championship on the course in 2003 and 2011, finishing eighth in stroke play in 2011 before making the national semifinals in the match-play portion of the championship.
"Karsten Creek is an excellent test of golf,” Green said. "We have a decent history there from 2011 and our guys are excited for the opportunity in front of them. We’re well aware that teams that are both mentally tough enough to handle the course and physically tough enough to make challenging shots are the ones who have success at Karsten Creek. Our guys have all played at the highest levels of junior and amateur golf in this country, and this course presents that kind of challenge.”
Duke is coming off a fifth-place finish at the ACC championship in New London, N.C. The Blue Devils finished 26 strokes behind conference champion Clemson, which will look to stay hot as NCAA regional and championship play heat up.
Although Duke was far off the Tigers' pace as a team, sophomore Jake Shuman enters NCAA regional play as one of the hottest players in the country. Shuman tied for second at the ACC championship after a final-round 67 and has posted three consecutive top-five finishes despite being fourth on the team in scoring average.
Shuman's classmate, Adam Wood, is the Blue Devils' scoring average leader, posting a 71.4 average in 30 rounds this season. Wood is on pace to set a program season record in greens in regulation, as the Zionsville, Ind., native has hit 70.9 percent so far this year.
Junior Matt Oshrine, freshman Alex Smalley and junior Max Greyserman round out Green's lineup. Oshrine won the Seahawk Intercollegiate in March and has posted eight rounds in the 60s this season, Smalley captured the Princeton Invitational individual title in early April and is the lineups's most accurate player off the tee and Greyserman has also had his share of success, finishing in the top-five individually twice this year.
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