DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke men's golf team, 16th in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, will tee up at the 2012 Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend (March 9-11). The three day, 54-hole tournament, which features four of the top five teams in the country, five of the top 10, and 10 of the top 25, will be played at the highly acclaimed 7,510-yard, par 72 Southern Highlands Golf Club.
"Any place that's a stop on the PGA tour is going to be a good course," said head coach Jamie Green. "Southern Highlands is the type of course that will test every part of a golfer's game."
Duke's lineup will include senior Spencer Anderson, juniors Brinson Paolini and Julian Suri along with sophomores Austin Cody and Yaroslav Merkulov. The Blue Devils are coming off a tie for a second place finish at the 36th annual John A. Burns Intercollegiate played Feb. 15-17 in Kahuku, O'ahu, Hawaii.
"On this type of course, it's probably a good thing if you've seen it before, it helps to know the lay of the land and to know how to position your ball so you're successful. All five of our guys have seen the course, and three have competed there," said Green.
Suri, who was recently named Golfweek Player of the Week and ACC Men's Golfer of the Month for February, enters this tournament with a ACC-best 70.72 stroke average, two individual titles at the Rod Myers Invitational (Oct. 1-2) and the John A. Burns Intercollegiate (Feb. 15-17) as well as three top-five finishes so far this season. The St. Augustine, Fla., native has 11 under-par rounds on the year and has shot under-par in each of his last five rounds played.
Paolini has registered two top-five finishes at the Rod Myers Invitational and the John A. Burns Intercollegiate. He has recorded eight under-par campaigns in 18 rounds this season, and owns a stroke average of 72.39. Anderson is ranked fifth in the ACC with a 71.6 stroke average and notched a second place finish at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate, while registering six under-par efforts in 15 rounds. Cody owns a stroke of 73.4 and has top 10 finishes at the O'Briant-Jensen Memorial (Oct. 24-25) and the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Merkulov, who has played in 12 rounds of golf this season, has a stroke average of 74.3.
"Julian [Suri] and Brinson [Paolini] are coming off big wins, so I know those guys will go in with a certain level of confidence. The rest of the guys, well they're seasoned veterans, so I think it's the strongest team we could field," added Green.
The 2012 Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters features 15 teams, 13 of which are listed in the top 50 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings while nine of those 13 teams have one or more individual players ranked in the top 20. The Blue Devils are joined by No. 3 Alabama, Arizona State, No. 10 California, No. 16 Duke, No. 25 Florida, New Mexico State, No. 24 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Stanford, No. 39 TCU, No. 1 Texas, No. 15 Texas A&M, Texas Tech, No. 5 UCLA, No. 11 UNLV and No. 4 USC.
"This is the number one ranked tournament in all of collegiate golf, so the teams that are coming are going to be the best in the country," stated Green.
Live scoring for the 2012 Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters is available at www.golfstat.com.