DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s golf team had an impressive opening day of the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club, posting a 568 (-8) through 36 holes of play.
Improving drastically on their first-round total of 289 (+1), the Blue Devils shot a 279 (-9) in the afternoon round to finish the day fourth, 10 strokes behind leader Wake Forest, who boasted a 558 (-18) at the conclusion of their day.
Vanderbilt will enter Sunday in third with a three-stroke lead over Duke, while Louisville, who is in fifth, will start the day trailing the blue and white by one shot.
Leading the way for the Blue Devils’ five-man lineup through two rounds was sophomore Chandler Eaton, who recorded consecutive rounds of 69 (-3). The Alpharetta, Ga. native tallied nine birdies on Saturday en route to finishing third on the leaderboard. His day was highlighted by a second round that featured four birdies in a six-hole stretch as he neared the back nine where he went bogeyless.
"I was really pleased with how I played," said Eaton. "I got to play with two of the best players in the country in Will Zalatoris and Norman Xiong, so we were able to feed off of each other. I have been working really hard on my putting and it is paying off. I am going to go out there tomorrow and try to win this thing. I know I am capable of winning this golf tournament."
Finishing up second for Duke was senior Jake Shuman, who shot a 73 (+1) and 68 (-4), respectively. The Needham, Mass. local absolutely owned the front nine of his second round, notching six birdies before making the turn. Shuman, sitting at three under par, owns a share of the No. 11 spot on the leaderboard.
"I like playing with a bit of an edge," Shuman said, "and that seemed to work having started the second round four under through five holes. Hopefully we can go out and shoot the low round of the event tomorrow and see where that puts us."
Completing his day with the third best score for the team was Wake Forest native Alex Smalley, who currently sits tied for 16th. The junior scored a 70 (-2) in his opening round before giving way to an even 72 in the afternoon. Smalley found the red five times in his first round, and three times in his second.
Coming in at No. 4 for the Blue Devils was sophomore Harrison Taee, who was making his Duke five-man lineup debut. His rounds of 77 (+5) and 70 (-2) have him at three-over with a share of 37th. Taee snagged six birdies and an eagle in his performance.
Zionsville, Ind. native Adam Wood rounded out the Duke lineup, finishing up tied for 50th on the leaderboard. Despite shooting a five-over 77 in the first round, the senior answered impressively with an even 72 to finish his day. The final nine holes of the evening of Wood’s evening was his best stretch of competition on Saturday, as he carded three birdies and zero bogeys.
For Duke’s individuals, freshmen Adrien Pendaries and Even Katz shined in their first tournament as Blue Devils.
Pendaries finished at four under, after responding to an opening 73 (+1) with a bogeyless 67 (-5) that featured five birdies. He would finish the day tied for sixth.
Katz snared a pair of eagles in his second round of play, as well as a quartet of birdies on his way to a six-under 66 after shooting a 77 (+5) in round one. The Washington D.C. local finished Saturday tied for 21st.
Head coach Jamie Green spoke on his team's season-opening day, providing thoughts on how he felt his lineup and individuals performed.
"A couple guys in the five-man lineup in Jake and Chandler had a nice round in the afternoon but it was also terrfiic to see a couple of individuals get things going, you know, a couple of freshmen should rounds of 66 and 67," Green said, "and that's great to see for our program. In such a short period of time, those guys got comfortable with the golf course and got things rolling."
The third and final round will take place tomorrow, September 17. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.