April snow has Duke playing its best golf of the season. 

The Blue Devils fought off a snowstorm that accumulated in their final round to win the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate in Illinois in their last event, capping a three-tournament streak of redemption. Chandler Eaton and Adam Wood both tied for a share of the individual title. 

Duke had struggled to finish tournaments and imploded in its first spring tournament in February, but has now carded three straight top-five finishes. 

The competition will be stiffer than it was in Illinois in the Blue Devils’ final tune-up before the ACC championship this weekend at the Stitch Intercollegiate at MacGregor Downs. Duke will travel to Cary looking to keep up its momentum at a par-72, 7,003-yard country club track—this time without snow on the ground. 

“It was a survival test. Everyone’s out there just trying to go moment by moment. Ideally, that’s how you want to play the game,” head coach Jamie Green said. “But when you don’t have extreme weather challenges, you can more easily caught up in things that don’t warrant your attention, like mechanics in your golf swing.”

Duke’s resurgence has been sharp—Green said on Feb. 6 that his team was “not even in the right hemisphere” of where he wanted them to be. Two starters finished worse than 20-over-par and no one shot better than 4-over par. Alex Smalley, the team’s current scoring leader by nearly a stroke, finished a dismal 9-over-par, but has bounced back with a vengeance. 

After anchoring the team for much of the spring, that showing in the Sea Best Invitational has proven to be a mere blip on the radar. Smalley has been a rock of stability, finishing no worse than 12th in his last three tournaments, including a tied-for third place finish in the Valspar Collegiate Championship in March. 

“He’s a gamer. He’s one of those guys that once the flags go up, he’s ready to go, regardless of what components of his game show up that week,” Green said. “Sometimes his swing isn’t the sharpest, but he still gets it around. Sometimes his putting might be off, but it doesn’t take him long to figure out what’s what in competition. He’s got a special knack for competitive golf.”

Smalley will be in the lineup alongside three underclassmen—Eaton, a sophomore, and freshmen Evan Katz and Adrien Pendaries—and senior Jake Shuman. The group, which Green hopes can be a consistent lineup going forward, boasts the Blue Devils’ top five scorers—not always a given for Green’s team. 

One familiar face that will not be in the lineup is Wood, who had looked lost fighting through swing changes in his last tournament in February and sat out the two prior events before earning a share of the title last week. The 2015-16 All-ACC golfer has fallen off a bit since that season, but surged between the snowflakes for the best finish of his career for the rebounding Blue Devils. 

Although Green was certainly not thrilled with his team’s 12th-place finish at the Sea Best Invitational, he didn’t view it as a wake-up call for a team that has recovering quickly. 

“They said it was. At the end of the day, for me it was easy to see that it was early in the season and we played on a golf course that had trouble on both sides and just hit too many foul balls,” Green said. “I didn’t give it a whole lot of though to be honest. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t any time for panic by any means.”