Chinn places second as Duke men's golf struggles at Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate

Kelly Chinn placed second overall in Alpharetta, Ga.
Kelly Chinn placed second overall in Alpharetta, Ga.

What goes up must always come down, Newton’s universal law of gravitation teaches us.

Although golf has little to do with gravity, that is what happened over the weekend for the Blue Devils. Duke placed 11th of 14 teams at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate in Alpharetta, Ga., a drastic difference from its first win of the season at the Georgetown Intercollegiate one week earlier. The Blue Devils finished +1 at 865, yet that score did not compare to Stanford’s winning 23-under-par 841. Still, Duke sophomore Kelly Chinn placed second and was 12-under-par.

“We played solid golf the last tournament. But, if you take the strength of the field in this event and plugged them into the last tournament it would have been a much different story,” said head coach Jamie Green. “The truth is that there were elite players and elite teams this week, and if you're just a hair off it was going move you pretty quickly down the back.” 

Duke placed 13th Friday and moved up to 12th after the second day Saturday. Even with patchy moments of hope, it was not enough for the Blue Devils to recover.

Although the tournament was a low for Duke, it was a career highlight for sophomore Kelly Chinn. With 20 birdies, the most in the entire tournament, Chinn placed second for the highest finish of his career. 

“It was a different mindset. I came into this tournament with a little more confidence … [and] identified some things to work on mentally,” said Chinn. “Each week of practice I have continued to grow and get better. I think every time I've had a better finish.”

The tournament structure presented a major difference for the Blue Devils this time around. Instead of a two-day tournament with 36 holes the first day and 18 the next day, the three-day tournament included 18 holes each day.

While the three-day tournament was not the same endurance challenge for the Blue Devils, it was a battle of strategic choices. Duke’s strategic choices were apparent throughout the tournament. The first and second days consisted of a mix of breakout birdies and bogeys for the Blue Devils, but their consistency showed on the third day Sunday, resulting in their lowest-scoring day of the weekend.

With each successive day, the Blue Devils improved, posting respective daily scores of 291, 289 and 285 on the par-72 course.

“I don't think it was a lack of planning. I just think it was poor execution,” Jamie Green said. “​​We have to look in the mirror and make sure we're spending the right time practicing the things that need to be sharper.”

The 11th-place finish poses a challenge to Duke, but it will be right back in action Friday at Paradise Island in the Bahamas for the three-day White Sands Bahamas Invitational.

“We have never been at this golf course,” Green said. “We really need to talk as a group about the things we struggled with. It is really going to be an individual guy-by-buy phase as we prepare for the next team event.”

While the Blue Devils did have experience at the Golf Club of Georgia from 2021, the upcoming unknown course in the Bahamas could be a challenge.

“It's the last event for the fall season … and I think our team is in a really solid place still,” said Chinn. “[We want] to continue to keep on playing good golf.”


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