For their second straight tournament, both the men and women’s golf teams held a lead. And, like before, the men’s team continued onto securing the team title while the women’s team struggled in subsequent rounds. 

The men’s team traveled to the revered Colonial Country Club–a stalwart on the PGA Tour, hosting the Fort Worth Invitational since 1946 and the 1941 U.S. Open–to compete in the Nike Collegiate Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas. The tournament annually brings together the top teams in college golf, with this year’s edition featuring eight top-25 teams, including No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 7 Southern California, No. 8 Texas and No. 10 Georgia. Although the women's team faced similar nationally ranked competition and opened with a strong start in the Windy City Collegiate at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Ill., miscues in the later days of the contest left it with a sixth-place finish. 

Despite the stacked field, the No. 9 Blue Devils clinched the title, shooting a 2-under-838, besting No. 16 Vanderbilt by six strokes and ACC-rivals Wake Forest and No. 13 Clemson by eight and nine shots, respectively. Duke, the only team to shoot under-par, was paced by a 6-under-274 second round–five strokes better than the field and the low-score of the tournament–and an individual title from junior Chandler Eaton. 

“He [Eaton] came up on 16 with me and gosh he could not have been more calm and confident. Certainly no arrogance, but just like another walk in the park. Everything was not coming easy but he acted like everything was under control,” head coach Jaime Green said. “He made some fantastic up-and-downs and that was his best suit. He putted beautifully this week–making putt-after-putt-after-putt. It was almost as if you knew it was going in.” 

Eaton led the individual race heading into the final round after carding even-par-70 on day one and started with three straight birdies in round two en-route to a 67. Through the opening eight, Eaton had ceded the lead to teammate Evan Katz, among others, who had four birdies on the first seven holes to reach 4-under. 

Back-to-back birdies on nine and 10 left the Alpharetta, G.A., native back on top at 5-under, but the Tigers’ Bryson Nimmer birdied holes 12-15 and the final hole of the day to leave the two tied at 5-under with Eaton left to play the 441-yard par-4 18th. After hitting a perfect drive, a short approach shot left him with over 40-feet for the win. With calm and poise, Eaton knocked in the long-snaking putt and claimed the individual title at 6-under. 

“As we were walking to the green I asked him, ‘In this situation, do you want to know [the scores]?’. He [Eaton] said ‘Sure – it is not going to affect me either way’,” Green said. “It was a perfectly struck putt and he was walking it in. He had a pretty strong emotional reaction and it was sort of a blackout moment. It was just pure emotion out there. It was pretty special to win and like that on the 18th hole at Colonial, such a celebrated and historic iconic venue.”


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On the team side, the second round pushed the Blue Devils from a tie for 5th at 5-over-285, four strokes behind the Commodores, to 1-under-559. Although the Demon Deacons briefly captured the lead in the final round after a strong start and Vanderbilt and Clemson remained in the mix, a steady 1-under-279 final round locked up the victory for Duke. 

“Obviously there are wonderful teams in the Nike Elite program. We know our guys can stack up. Our guys know it does not matter if it’s the national championship field, they know they can stack up,” Green said. “The cool thing about winning the last two tournaments was that it came under very different scoreable conditions.... That is the exciting thing looking ahead–they can stack up no matter the track.” 

After winning the individual title in record-setting fashion last week, Alex Smalley struggled coming out of the gates, with a triple-bogey on the ninth leading to a 4-over-74. A bogey to start the day Monday looked to derail the senior captain, but Smalley settled down, carding six birdies in the round en-route to a 4-under-66–the low round of the day. A 2-under final round that included birdies on holes 16 and 17 pushed Smalley to a top-five finish. 

Katz and Adrien Pendaries were the next top-finishers for Duke. The former shot 71-69 over the first 36 holes before four birdies on the opening nine seemed to prime the sophomore for a top-10 finish. However, three bogeys and a double-bogey left Katz tied for 15th at 1-over. Meanwhile, fellow sophomore Pendaries shot even-par-70 the first day with a pair of birdies and bogeys and 2-over-72 on day two after a double-bogey on 14 nullified his eagle on the opening hole. A final round 73 left the Frenchman at 5-over, good for 29th. 

Winning multiple tournaments for the fifth consecutive season, the Blue Devils will take a break from serious competition, playing in their annual alumni event this coming weekend.  

On the women’s side, No. 4 Duke grabbed the lead after shooting 4-under-284 in the opening 18 holes Monday morning, two strokes ahead of No. 5 Southern California.  

However, the second-18 of the day saw the Blue Devils shoot 13-over-301, leaving them tied for fourth, 10 strokes behind No. 14 Arizona. Despite a 2-under through eight holes final round Tuesday giving Duke some hope, a final round 5-over-293 left the Blue Devils at 14-over-878 for the 54 holes, 14 strokes behind the Trojans, who defeated No. 13 Arizona State by five strokes.  

“We are really not far away from playing great golf as a team,” head coach Dan Brooks told GoDuke.com. “We will be doing pretty much what we have been doing in practice. It just takes patience and steady commitment.” 

Jaravee Boonchant led Duke, carding rounds of 68-72-75 en-route to a top-10 finish at 1-under. Virginia Elena Carta and Gina Kim both placed in the top-25, with the former starting strong with a 68 to tie Boonchant for a tie for first after the first 18. However, a second round 78 with no birdies and a final round 74 left Carta tied for 18th at 4-over. Kim’s performance was more consistent, with rounds of 74-76-72, leading to a tie for 24th at 6-over. 

Ana Belac and Miranda Wang rounded out the Blue Devils lineup. After a triple-bogey wiped out an otherwise solid 1-under performance Monday morning, five bogeys and two double-bogeys negated a Belac eagle, leaving Belac at 8-over after Monday afternoon. An even-par-72 kept the Slovenian at 8-over, good for 34th. Wang improved considerably after an opening round 81 with two scores of 75 to finish in 54th at 15-over. 

Duke will head down Tobacco Road to participate in the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational at Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C., next weekend.