LOS CABOS, MEXICO – The Duke men’s golf team wrapped up the Querencia Cabo Collegiate on Tuesday afternoon, putting forth its best round of the tournament.
The Blue Devils managed to string together a one-under 283, pushing their overall score to 860, leaving them at eight over for the event. The squad also bumped up a spot on the leaderboard, jumping from sixth to fifth.
With 10 top-25 teams participating in the tournament, Duke successfully beat out seven of them, including No. 23 South Florida (862, +10), No. 19 Arkansas (862, +10), No. 2 Vanderbilt (865, +13), No. 20 Florida State (869, +17), No. 5 Baylor (871, +19), No. 17 Stanford (874, +22) and No. 14 Wake Forest (903, +51) who finished last in the field.
No. 1 Oklahoma State saw great success on the course once again, repeating as QCC Champions after shooting an 838 (-14) through three days.
Duke was led by Shrish Dwivedi on Tuesday, whose final round of 69 (-2) and overall score of 215 (+2) resulted in new season lows. The junior, similar to yesterday’s effort, notched an eagle on No. 9 and would end up as the only Blue Devil to record a pair in the tournament. Dwivedi’s eagle came immediately after his round-opening double bogey on 8. He would also garner three birdies on the day.
“I think this tournament was a great measuring stick for myself at this point in the season,” Dwivedi said. “I had made some changes in my game last fall, and it was great to expose it to a very strong field on a demanding golf course. I saw some glimpses of really good golf that I can play, so I need to keep taking care of the small things daily, iron out the mistakes, and continue to make the game more precise.”
Head coach Jamie Green took note of the junior’s success weekend, and believes it was no result of luck.
“Shrish has earned the respect of everyone on our team because of his dedication and work ethic,” Green said. “It was great to see that pay off this week with some really solid and steady play in our 5-man lineup. Especially today, Shrish drove the ball in play on every hole, hit crisp iron shots, and relied on his deft short game when he needed to. Also, the energy he brings to the team was apparent this week with him in the lineup. His calm confidence is terrific for our group and what I'd hope for all of our players to possess and exude.”
Smalley would finish his tournament with a score of 214 (+1), sealing his fourth top-20 finish of the season, a team best. He would speak to that consistency, both from this week and this season, following the round.
“I would say my driving keeps me out of trouble for the most part,” said Smalley. “I had a couple loose drives this week but for the most part I can attack most holes when I get it in play. My putting came around this week so it was definitely nice to see the ball go in.”
Pendaries, whose score improved each day of the event, ended with a 219 (+6) after keeping his bogey count to just a pair on Tuesday.
“I played well today and it felt good to finish with a score under par,” said Pendaries. “After such a frustrating start it was nice to end the tournament on a positive note. I think I was able to improve progressively this week by learning from the mistakes I made early on and trying not to repeat them. Many of my early bogeys were due to either foul balls or course management mistakes. I was able to limit those mistakes today and yesterday for most of the day, hence making fewer bogeys and shooting better scores.”
Senior Jake Shuman shot a 74 (+3) to give him a 216 (+3) overall, good enough for a top-20 finish in a solid field. The Needham, Mass. native was unable to recover from three bogeys and a double, but managed to snare two birdies to push that total count to 13 for the tournament.
Rounding out the Blue Devil lineup was sophomore Chandler Eaton, who shot a five-over 76 to move his overall score to 222 (+9). A nine on the par-4 No. 1 was the only true blemish on an otherwise impressive showing for Eaton, who still recorded three birdies in the final round.
Giving his concluding thoughts on the tournament, head coach Jamie Green acknowledged that, while he knew his team would ultimately be challenged by the field, he was more than pleased with how they handled it.
“I'm really proud of how each one of our guys responded to some adversity each day,” Green said. “They remained focused, determined, and decisive. The body language and each individuals' frame of mind on our squad this week seemed as good as it's been all year for an entire tournament. Lots of positives to draw from this week, for sure.”
Duke returns to action in two weeks with the Valspar Collegiate Championship, held at the Floridian Golf Club in Palm City, Fla. from March 18-20.