After another tournament in the books, the Blue Devils find themselves with another mediocre finish and another impressive performance from Ian Siebers.
But despite the former, there’s still plenty of hope for improvement in the quest to find postseason success.
Duke traveled to Milton, Ga., for the ACC Championship at Capital City Club's Crabapple Course this past weekend. Facing a competitive field with some of the most talented teams in the country, the Blue Devils fell short, finishing eighth out of 12 teams.
With aspirations held high for the tournament, the team’s showing was simply not enough to qualify for match play and have a chance at the title.
“There were just too many times when our execution put us in a bind,” head coach Jamie Green said. “We just didn’t pull off golf shots that were right there in front of us.”
The Blue Devils struggled to find consistent contribution from several players in each day of the tournament, leaving them unable to rise to the top of the leaderboard. Over the weekend, the team had to count two six-over par rounds and one seven-over par round en route to its 23-over finish.
Frankly, for a team to compete for an ACC Championship or NCAA tournament success, low scores need to come from the entire team. As much as golf can be an individual sport, college golf requires consistency all the way through the lineup.
In the midst of an otherwise underwhelming team performance, freshman Ian Siebers shined once again, finishing tied for 10th even after struggling on the final two holes of the tournament.
Siebers opened up the weekend with a four-under 66, followed by a 69 in the second round to put himself right in the mix for individual honors. But due to a double-bogey and a bogey on the 53rd and 54th holes of competition, respectively, the Bellevue, Wash., native fell down the leaderboard. Even with that fall to 10th place, Siebers’ finish marked the best by any Duke freshman in the ACC Championship since Brinson Paolini finished fourth in 2010.
“[Siebers] really had a nice tournament,” Green said. “As a freshman, other than getting to the 53rd and 54th hole of the championship, he really played some of the best level golf of anyone in the tournament.”
Although the team struggled this weekend, there are still reasons to remain hopeful that the Blue Devils can make their presence known in the NCAA tournament. There are 81 spots in the NCAA regional qualifiers, which take place from May 17-19. Currently ranked at No. 41 in the country, Duke will in all likelihood be selected to continue its season.
So if the team is to continue the season, what steps need to be taken to produce better results? For Green, the most important issues lie in the mental portion of the game.
“The key for us is staying in the moment,” Green said. “That’s the most difficult part about the game of golf, and it’s certainly an area we can do better with.”
As most other Duke sports, Green's squad will have a break for finals this week, but that doesn't mean they will stop preparing themselves mentally and physically for the NCAA regional qualifiers.
In just a few short weeks, the Blue Devils will most likely be put to their biggest test of the season, facing potential elimination from the postseason as they take on some of the best teams from across the country. If the team can find consistency all the way through the lineup, expectations for postseason success will remain very much alive.
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