ACC Championship Notes
DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s golf team has already had an outstanding season with four team titles, two individual medalist honors and a top-10 national ranking. The Blue Devils look to build on that success this weekend in a quest for the program’s seventh league title at the ACC Championship at Old North State Club (par 72, 7,102 yards) in New London, N.C.
“The ACC Championship is a special event,” said head coach Jamie Green. “Everybody wants that experience to be at the ACC Championship. What we have done on the men’s side which is kind of special is that we are isolated around the golf course. We stay in families’ homes, we aren’t in and out of the hotel. The staff there is terrific and the rules officials are the same ones at the NCAA Championship. Everything from top to bottom makes the guys feel like exactly what it is, the best conference championship in the country.”
Duke, ranked No. 10 in the latest Golf World / Nike Golf Coaches Poll, will field a lineup featuring seniors Brinson Paolini, Adam Sumrall and Julian Suri along with junior Austin Cody and freshman Mads Soegaard. Paolini has a pair of top 5 finishes in the ACC Championship at Old North State Club, while Suri has finished in the top 15 there in each of the last two seasons. Sumrall was Duke’s low finisher at the 2012 ACC Championship with a two-under 214 to tie for 14th, while Cody was also in the lineup a year ago.
“Our game is all about confidence,” said Green of coming off a win at last weekend’s Wolfpack Spring Open. “In any sport if you can win and have a winning streak going into the next event, it is going to help your emotions. It is such a mental and emotional game that if you can go in there believing in what you are doing and having proof that it is working, that is everything. It was really helpful for us to win last weekend. Obviously, the guys feel good about things and they did it pretty close to home, which is always nice.”
The Blue Devils are joined in the field by No. 9 Georgia Tech, No. 15 Florida State, No. 25 Wake Forest as well as Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech has won the last four ACC Championships.
In order to supplant the Yellow Jackets from the top spot in the league hierarchy, Duke will need to carry over its balanced play from last weekend’s Wolfpack Spring Open. The Blue Devils placed four players inside the top 10 with Paolini and Suri both shooting under-par and finishing in the top 5. Duke’s five-man lineup for the ACC Championships has combined for 17 top-10 finishes and 43 rounds of under-par golf on the season.
“The field is deep and our conference is always so good that if you are going to win the event, you can’t do it with a lone wolf,” added Green. “You can’t do it with one guy leading the way and dominating. You got to have two, three or four contributors. It is not uncommon to have three or four guys in the top 10 to win that championship. I think we have to put together the lineup we have right now. The seniors have had success at Old North State Club, Mads [Soegaard] has been consistent all year long and Austin [Cody] has shown spurts of success with some low finishes in some big tournaments, including one of our biggest wins this year. If every one of those guys goes in there with the right mindset and we prepare well, I think we will be there Sunday afternoon.”
The picturesque Old North State Club, home of the ACC Championship for the 12th straight year, has proven to yield excellent scoring opportunities in the past. Duke has finished under-par at the course in each of the past six tournaments there, including a school-record 23-under 841 in 2008. In the last six seasons, Blue Devil golfers have recorded 40 under-par rounds at the course with 13 players finishing under-par for the tournament.
Despite excellent scoring in recent history, Old North State Club can show its teeth when the wind picks up in the piedmont of North Carolina. Tom Fazio designed the course in 1991 along a two-and-half mile peninsula in Badin Lake. The course, featuring dramatic elevation changes, quickly gained a reputation with golfers from across the nation and was awarded the No. 2 spot in Golf Digest’s ranking of best new private courses in America in 1992. Since its opening, the North Carolina Golf Panel has repeatedly ranked Old North State as the top private course in the state with the best par 3 and the best finishing hole in North Carolina.
“There have definitely been some low years, with some record-breaking scores, but the wind can blow out there,” continued Green. “The guys know that and they have to be ready to take whatever the golf course is offering. If they can be accepting of it and diligent in their game plan they can be successful.”
The Blue Devils have had their most success in the Carolinas, winning all four events in North and South Carolina. Duke owns wins on the home courses of all three Triangle schools as well as a victory in the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Charleston, S.C.
Duke opens first round action Friday, April 26 at 11:10 a.m. with a lineup order (No. 5 – No. 1) of Suri, Cody, Sumrall, Soegaard and Paolini. The Blue Devils are paired with Florida State and Georgia Tech for the last groupings of round one.
Live scoring, tee times and complete stats for the tournament are available at http://theacc.co/MGolflivescoring and www.golfstat.com. Saturday and Sunday’s afternoon action can be seen live (beginning at 2:30 pm) at http://theacc.co/MGolfWatchLive.
Updates, photos and other tournament notes will also be available on Twitter @Duke_MGolf and @ACCMGolf.