KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- Junior Julian Suri fired a six-under 65 on Sunday to lead the Blue Devils to a 12-under 272 in the final round of the Irish Creek Collegiate. Duke finished second in the tournament with a 13-under 839, while Suri recorded his fifth top 5 finish of the season with a second place showing at the Club at Irish Creek (par 71, 7,099 yards).
Kent State matched Duke for low round of the tournament with a 12-under 272 on Sunday. The Golden Flashes won the team title with a 27-under 825. The Blue Devils were second with Mercer (-9, 843), Charlotte (-3, 849) and Virginia Commonwealth (+7, 859) rounding out the top five.
"The golf course was no doubt scoreable. There was very little wind and guys were going to have quite a few wedges in their hands with greens that were receptive," said head coach Jamie Green. "Scores were definitely out there for the taking. Kent State played great golf all weekend and our guys certainly had one great day."
James Beale of Mercer fired a seven-under 64 in the closing round to claim a two-shot victory over Suri with a 13-under 200. With Suri breathing down his neck throughout the day, Beale held off the Duke junior with a 35-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 17 to grab a two-stroke lead heading into the final hole. Suri's second place finish marks his fifth straight tournament with a top 10 showing. Mackenzie Hughes (Kent State), Sebastian MacLean (Xavier) and Taylor Pendrith (Kent State) finished tied for third at eight-under, while Olafur Loftsson (Charlotte) was sixth at seven-under. Sophomore Yaroslav Merkulov finished tied for seventh with a six-under 207 while playing as an individual for Duke.
Suri began the day with a pair of pars before moving into red figures with a birdie on the par 3 third hole. He suffered his only bogey of the round on the next hole to slip back to even-par. Following three straight pars, Suri closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies. The St. Augustine, Fla., native moved to three-under with a birdie on No. 12 and picked up two more strokes with an eagle on the 582-yard, par 5 13th hole. Suri inched closer to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie on the par 3 15th hole before parring out for the runner-up finish. He finished the tournament with 16 birdies and an eagle.
"Today was a solid round. I didn't make any putts early on when a lot of people were making birdies, but I stayed patient and trusted my stuff and was able to get it going into the back nine," said Suri. "The last three holes weren't what I wanted but on the whole it was a solid tournament despite me not feeling well. Finishing second stings and it will motivate me for next week and heading into the ACC Tournament."
Suri now leads the Blue Devils with 14 under-par rounds, five top 5 finishes and a 70.5 stroke average. He has shot even-par or better in 12 of the last 15 rounds played (10 under-par rounds). Suri has recorded two or more under-par rounds in six of his eight tournament played this season.
"Julian is playing some of the best college golf that I have seen with what he is doing out there on a week-by-week basis," added Green. "He has another gear and when he knows that he is in contention to win a tournament he finds a way to make those last few shots and last few holes mean something."
Sophomore Austin Cody fired a three-under 68 on Sunday to jump 10 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for 12th with a two-under 211. He opened par-birdie-bogey before rattling off birdies on No. 4 (par 4), No. 5 (par 4) and No. 6 (par 5) to move to three-under on the day. He suffered a bogey on No. 10 but rebounded with a birdie on the par 4 12th hole. Cody dropped a stroke on No. 15 but again countered with a birdie on No. 16 to remain at three-under. He closed out with a pair of pars to register his sixth under-par round and secure his fourth top 20 finish of the season.
Adam Sumrall, a junior from Indiana, recorded a season-low two-under 69 on Sunday. He got off to a slow start with bogeys on No. 3 and No. 4 and after a birdie on the par 5 sixth hole suffered his third bogey on No. 7. Sumrall recovered with five straight pars before catching fire with birdies on No. 13, No. 14, No. 16 and No. 17 down the stretch. He closed the event tied for 20th with a season-best one-over 214.
Junior Tim Gornik also shot under-par with a one-under 70 in the final round. He collected two birdies, 15 pars and one bogey on the day to finish tied for 25th with a three-over 216. Brinson Paolini also finished tied for 25th after posting his third straight round of one-over 72 golf. The Virginia Beach, Va., native had three birdies, 11 pars and four bogeys on the day.
Merkulov began his day on the back nine and have seven pars, one birdie and one bogey to make the turn at even-par. The Penfield, N.Y., native parred the first five holes after the turn before closing with birdies on No. 6, No. 8 and No. 9 to jump up the leaderboard. Merkulov ended the tournament tied for seventh with a six-under 207 for his low 54-hole score of the season.
Senior Spencer Anderson fired a two-under 69 in the final round to finish tied for 17th at even-par (213). He opened the day on the back nine with eight pars and a bogey to head into the final nine holes at one-over. Anderson birdied the par 4 first hole and added birdies on No. 3 (par 3) and No. 5 (par 4) to collect his fifth round in the 60s this year.
Freshman Turner Southey-Gordon posted a one-over 72 on Sunday to close the event tied for 38th with a six-over 219. He had three birdies, 11 pars and four bogeys in the round. Freshman Michael Ricaurte tied for 61st after shooting a six-over 77 in the final round. He had five birdies on the day but also suffered seven bogeys and a pair of double-bogeys.
Duke has now won one tournament this season with four runner-up finishes. The Blue Devils 12-under 272 on Sunday is tied for the third-lowest 18 hole score in school history. Suri's 11-under (202) is tied for the fourth-lowest tournament score (in relation to par) at Duke. He also posted an 11-under (205) at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate earlier this season.
The Blue Devils return to action this week at the River Landing Intercollegiate in Wallace, N.C. (April 6-7). Live scoring for the event is available at www.golfstat.com.
"We still have quite a bit of golf left in the season and we are all looking forward to it. It was good to get out and put some red numbers on the board here and we will look to build off of that," said Green. "We are going to spend the next couple of days preparing for River Landing . We look forward to having our guys learn that golf course and seeing what we can do out there."
*** Suri's five top 5 finishes at tied for fourth-most in the Duke single season record books ... Suri's season stroke average of 70.5 is a full stroke better than the Duke single season record held by Ryan Blaum (2003-04, 71.54)
*** Duke has shot under-par as a team in five of eight tournaments this season ... the 13-under 839 was the team's second-lowest 54-hole score of the season
*** All nine members of the Duke golf team were in action at the Irish Creek Collegiate ... the group combined for nine under-par rounds and three even-par rounds