The Chronicle’s best wins bracket previously introduced some of Duke men’s basketball’s top moments throughout the years. This new series coincides with those moments, shedding light on some of Duke Athletics’ other highlights throughout the school’s storied history. We hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane. Today's moment: Former Duke standout golfer Adam Long emerges victorious at the 2019 Desert Classic.
From 2006 until 2010, Adam Long starred for the Duke men’s golf team. By the time he graduated, the St. Louis native had earned the second highest scoring average in Blue Devil history.
Upon turning professional in 2010, Long began the journey to the PGA Tour through the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Canada, two developmental circuits that provide a pathway to the top level of professional golf to the leading money winners.
In 2018, a 13th place finish on the money list earned him his card to join the ranks of the most talented golfers on the planet. In just his sixth tournament of the season at the Desert Classic, Long surprisingly found himself in contention.
Rounds of 63, 71, and 63 in La Quinta, California put Long at 19 under par, just one shot behind Adam Hadwin and three behind Phil Mickelson, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. Mickelson, with 44 PGA Tour wins and five major championships, has been a stalwart on the links since his first victory on tour as an amateur in 1991. With those three making up the last group to tee off during the final round, it was obvious that there would be a furious charge to the finish.
Mickelson clearly had the advantage in experience over a rookie in Long. Despite that, Long birdied the first two holes, seemingly sending a message to the frontrunner that he was ready to challenge for the title. Long, Mickelson, and Hadwin battled throughout the day, with Long and Mickelson especially putting the pressure on each other down the stretch.
Standing on the eighteenth green, the Duke alum found himself tied at the top of the leaderboard with Mickelson and Hadwin at 25 under. After both players failed to make birdie, Long lined up a 14-foot attempt for his first PGA Tour win. The putt curled right into the center of the hole, and he showed his emotions with an emphatic fist pump. Not only had he secured his first tour win and two years of automatic eligibility, Long had taken down one of the era-defining golfers.