Weathering tough conditions Saturday and a difficult back nine, Duke looked like it might succumb to the course and fall out of the top five in a tight contest for positions three through six.

However, through composure and maturity, the No. 19 Blue Devils were able to avoid stumbling to the finish and edged out South Florida by a stroke to finish third at the Wolfpack Spring Open in Raleigh behind N.C. State and No. 12 Clemson. Alexander Matlari followed a triple bogey on hole 15, a notoriously difficult hole, with a birdie on 16, and freshman Chandler Eaton overcame three straight bogeys on holes 14, 15 and 16 with a birdie on 18 to steady Duke to a 4-over-par Saturday and 3-under-par overall score.

“[Hole 15] is one of the tightest golf holes in college golf to be honest with you. Whether you play in the tournament or qualify there, you just do not see too many holes where there is a loss of shot hazard on both sides of the fairway, with really no rough,” Blue Devil head coach Jaime Green said. “If you miss the fairway, you pretty much have to drop a ball. If you miss just slightly, sometimes it will rack up to something more than just a bogey.”

The weekend at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course could be characterized as a struggle all around for Duke. Eaton, after opening his front nine Friday hot at 3-under-par, finished the tournament at 4-over-par, with a 75 on the final day. Matlari, on the other hand, came out of the gates slow, posting a 4-over-par on the opening front nine before carding rounds of 74, 70, and 73 to finish tied with Eaton for 33rd.

Despite his top two players struggling, Green was still pleased with his team’s performance.

“What I like to try to focus on is the positives. We are 13-2 on the week. We beat 13 teams, lost to two. If you look at that record versus other sports, we had a pretty nice week,” he said. "[Chandler] probably didn’t bounce back as well the last day but he took ownership of that. I think that’s probably the best thing about where our players are. They don’t hide from something that may have been an area that they could have done better. They confront it and look forward to other opportunities to improve it.”

The host Wolfpack had a field day on their 7,000-yard, par-71 home course, torching the Arnold Palmer design with 59 birdies en route to a 31-under-par 821. The Tigers, paired with N.C. State for the tournament, finished comfortably in second place at 18-under-par with four individuals in the top 10.

Senior Matt Oshrine was Duke's only starter in the top 10. After missing the Mason Rudolph Championship two weeks ago with back issues, Oshrine returned without missing a beat, carding rounds of 71, 69, and 69 to finish tied for seventh at 4-under-par.

However, more promising were the performances of junior Jake Shuman and freshman Steven DiLisio, who both finished in the top 10 competing as individuals. Shuman used a scintillating 65 on the opening day to put himself in the conversation for an individual title. Although rounds of 74 and 70 moved him back to 10th, it was a dramatic improvement from a 14-over-par performance two weeks ago.

“Jake’s been a little up and down this spring by his own admission by just looking at his play, but he’s had very strong performances as in the first round of the tournament this weekend," Green said. "He was right there to compete for the win and the last day there the conditions were really quite tough, and to get an under-par score and keep it was pretty impressive.”

Meanwhile, DiLisio used consistent rounds of 68, 69, and 71 to pace himself to a sixth-place finish at 5-under. Although he struggled mightily early in the season, averaging a team-worst 77 strokes per round heading into the tournament, DiLisio may have found his groove.

“Steven has played very well all spring. I think he would say last fall for him was extremely frustrating, almost a low point for him in golf,” Green said. “And to his credit, he gathered, he got focused on the areas he needed to improve, he did not have a bad attitude about it and took it head on and played great golf. One of the good things for our program is that we are a deep team, as deep as probably any team I have coached in over 20 years.”

The Blue Devils now head into the most important part of their schedule with the ACC championship looming next weekend. However, they will not see a familiar course. 

Due to North Carolina's House Bill 2, the tournament was moved to Musgrove Mill in Clinton, S.C., instead of typical host course Old North State in New London, N.C. Along with unfamiliar territory, Duke will be competing with the best in the country, featuring four other top-25 teams, including No. 8 Wake Forest.

“It is all about belief. It is one of, if not the strongest conference, in college golf. I know the Pac-12, SEC, Big 12 would all like to say the same. But if you take the top-25 rankings, you are going to have a bundle of teams in our conference,” Green said. “Our guys have a level of maturity that it just comes down to practicing the right things and continuing to build confidence. Not trying to reinvent the wheel, not trying to make massive changes, but really just trusting what you got and what they have is good enough to compete.”