LAS VEGAS Nev. - The Duke men's golf team, ranked 16th in the latest Golfweek/Sargain Poll, fired a nine-over 288 on Friday in the opening round of the Southern Highland Collegiate Masters. The Blue Devils are currently in 11th place overall behind the under-par efforts of juniors Julian Suri and Brinson Paolini.
Coming off an individual title at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate, Suri led the Blue Devils with a two-under par 70. The St. Augustine, Fla., native collected three birdies and a double bogey to finish one-under par on the front nine. Suri played the final nine with eight pars and a birdie on No. 13 to close the day to tie for sixth, four stokes off the individual leader, Logan McCracken of Texas Tech (66).
Junior Brinson Paolini, a product of Virginia Beach, Va., finished one-under par 71 and is currently tied for 10th place. He registered three birdies and one bogey on his first nine holes. Paolini shot par before recording a bogey on No. 13 and a double bogey on No. 15, but finished with back-to-back birdies on the last two holes.
Senior Spencer Anderson shot one-over par on the front nine before running into trouble on the last few holes, registering a bogey on No. 12 and a double bogey on No. 15 and No. 17 to post a 6-over par in the opening round of play. The Pacific Palisades, Calif., native is currently tied for 60th. Sophomore Austin Cody posted 6-over par and is also tied for 60th after the opening round of play. The North Charleston, S.C., native shot even on the front nine before registering a double bogey on No. 10 and three consecutive bogeys on No. 15 - No. 17.
Sophomore Yaroslav Merkulov started off the day strong with an eagle on the first hole before registering back-to-back bogeys on No. 2 and No. 3 and then No. 5 and No. 6 to finish the front nine three-over par. The Penfield, N.Y., native recorded his only birdie of the day on No. 13, a double bogey on No. 15 and back-to-back bogeys on No. 17 and No. 18 to post seven-over par and finish tied for 62nd place.
"As a team we have to play all 18 holes. On a course like this it demands your attention on every shot, whether it's a putt or a drive, it demands your focus all day long. Julian [Suri] obviously did that the best. He displayed the kind of patience, intelligence, and focus that's needed and it reflected in his score. Brinson [Paolini] did equally well with two birdies at the end, his finish to get to one-under was quite strong. The other guys couldn't quite close the book on the round out there today. It's just a matter of having all five guys follow through for every hole and not allowing yourself to have a lapse in focus or discipline," said Head Coach Jamie Green.
California, listed at No. 10 in the recent Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, holds an 18-hole lead after posting a two-under 288 on Friday. No. 11 University of Nevada at Las Vegas is one shot back, followed by Texas (E, 288) and UCLA (+3, 291). Stanford, Texas, and Alabama are tied for fifth at four-over with Florida and Texas Tech tied for eighth at five-over. TCU is in 10th place with six-over, followed by Duke in 11th place at nine-over par.
Logan McCracken (Texas Tech) owns the opening round lead after carding a six-under par, while Tyler Dunlap (Texas A&M) and Bobby Wyatt (Alabama) are four shots back and tied for second place.
Duke returns to the Southern Highlands course tomorrow for the second round of the tournament. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com.