With love in the air this past week, the golf course was not as loving to the Blue Devils as they may have hoped.
The Bahamas might seem like a classical vacation spot, but it was far from that as head coach Dan Brooks and the Blue Devils struggled to meet high expectations in their season-opening three days at the Nexus Collegiate Invitational. With temperatures in the mid-70s and clear skies at the Albany Golf Course, the Blue Devils had a disenchanting season opener, finishing ninth out of 10 teams and closing with a 67-over 931 over the 54 holes.
“They didn’t perform nearly as well as they'd like,” said head coach Dan Brooks. “It made it challenging and they fought hard until the end.”
It was a tough start for the Blue Devils as they averaged 79.5 strokes on the first day and finished out the round with nine double-bogeys and two triple-bogeys. With wind speeds up to 19 miles per hour Monday and forecasted to continue for the next two days, Duke was in a tough position.
“That wind blew on everybody, it just didn’t blow on Duke,” Brooks said. “But it did affect us obviously. The only thing different between that tournament and any other tournament was that the wind blew all three days.”
Duke had sporadic moments of hope the next day. Senior Megan Furtney, who tied for 57th place, had the only eagle for the Blue Devils on hole 15 during Tuesday’s round. Following right behind her was junior Anne Chen, who finished 43rd and had back-to-back birdies Tuesday, finishing day two 2-over.
Yet, the little moments of hope on the second day disappeared for Duke in Wednesday’s final round. The Blue Devils finished 12 shots back of Minnesota and Ole Miss for seventh place and 56 shots behind first-place Wake Forest, which finished 11-over.
While it may have been a struggle for the majority of the Blue Devils, senior Erica Shepherd tied for 18th place. Collecting back-to-back birdies on holes 15 and 16 in the second round and tying Chen for the most birdies by a Blue Devil, the Greenwood, Ind., native was a driving force.
“Erica is a very dedicated player, she is working on her game all the time … I think her ability to know her swing is a big plus,” Brooks said.
Similarly, Andie Smith’s position as the only freshman on the team gave put her at somewhat of a disadvantage for the team’s spring opener. Even though the Hobe Sound, Fla., native placed 35th, she rolled out 25-footers on the green, tallied six birdies and had six straight pars on the second day. The freshman is one to look out for.
“She didn't have a great tournament, but she had some shining moments,” Brooks said of Smith.
The season opener might not have gone according to plan, but with high expectations from Brooks and more wind training on the way, Duke will next compete Feb. 27 at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head, S.C.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.