Duke men's golf finishes seventh in Baton Rouge Regional, Evans qualifies for NCAA Championship

Ethan Evans qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual.
Ethan Evans qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual.

About a year ago, Duke golf pulled out a comeback for the ages. Down 10 strokes in the middle of the final round, the Blue Devils imposed their will with 17 birdies to advance to the NCAA Championship. 

Duke found themselves in that same position — this time in the bayou of Baton Rouge, La., — but couldn’t replicate that performance.

Through the second round, the Blue Devils sat in fourth place, but slipped to seventh with a 3-over third round as the teams around Duke shot in the red that day.

“It's a sting to not advance,” head coach Jamie Green said. “Even some of the teams that didn’t advance had some under power rounds. And that's ultimately what kept us out. We didn't make enough birdies. And we didn't offset those with good solid pars.”

However, not all of Duke is done for the season. Sophomore Ethan Evans tied for second place and punched his ticket to the National Championship as an individual. 

“I'm proud of [Evans] for gutting out some really, really strong holes out there,” Green said. “He knew where he stood, he knew that he needed to finish strong and he did just that, so we're excited for him to use that exclamation point and excited to go out and watch him play at the National Championship.”

In a tight race after the first round Monday, with third and tenth places separated by only six strokes, Duke ended fifth at +3, spearheaded by  Evans and William Love. Evans stayed steady with 15 pars and capitalized early with two birdies and only one dropped shot. Love shot even, but navigated unfortunate shots into the water by following with birdies.

The Blue Devils stayed consistent in round two, shooting the exact same score of 291 as the day before, which pushed them to fourth place, but only with a 2-shot barrier from host LSU in sixth. 

Tuesday was all Ethan Evans.

The Mercer Island, Wash., native went low for 5-under and got hot quickly. Eagling his first par-5 of the day and adding another birdie, Evans was 3-under through his first three holes. After his one fault of a double bogey on the 14th, Evans went bogey free the rest of the day with four more birdies, getting him to 6-under and tying for first place. 

“He's been the most consistent and best player on our team this spring and has really played at an extremely high level all spring long”, remarked Green about Evans. “ He capitalized on a lot of confidence and a lot of good play this week and leveraged his game to the golf course.”

“I'd say the par fives were the main area where I was able to take advantage of that,” Evans said. “I didn't have to stress about getting up or down from some tough places. So, I'd say over time that kind of accumulated some into some good golf to get under par in round 2.”

Duke played consistently and steadily the first two rounds, which featured 115 pars. It has been a point of emphasis all spring as the Blue Devils had rough starts in multiple tournaments. But this time, they could not hold on to their lead. Junior Luke Sample led the way by going 2-under, catching fire on the front nine with three birdies in a four hole stretch. Evans stayed true to his consistency with 16 pars, a bogey and a birdie on his last hole to finish even on the day, getting tap-ins all weekend.

But the two weren’t able to overcome Duke’s shortcomings. Despite staying consistent with a third 291, the other teams found the red, as Ohio State, LSU and Houston edged the Blue Devils out of the top five and ended their run to the National Championship in Carlsbad, Calif. 

Looking forward to next year, Duke hopes to be more consistent and find its way back to a National Championship.

“These guys have very high aspirations, and deservedly so because they're a very talented group,” Green said. “We close the door really well in a lot of tournaments. So that's a highlight and something to remember, even if it wasn't the trend that happened this week.”

“I think it's a good wake up call for us,” Evans said. “We're close and we have a lot of talent. And we're good enough to win a National Championship, but we’ve got to clean up some areas. We'll see how we get better going forward and show up in the fall with this experience behind us and some new goals.”


Share and discuss “Duke men's golf finishes seventh in Baton Rouge Regional, Evans qualifies for NCAA Championship” on social media.