PALM CITY, Fla. – Duke men’s golf wrapped up its opening round of the Valspar Collegiate Championship on Sunday afternoon, posting a score of 286 (+2) that helped them finish the day with a share of fifth on the leaderboard.
The team opened up action at the Floridian National Golf Club (par 71, 7,114), a course that would see two Blue Devils conclude their Sunday efforts under par.
Junior Alex Smalley had an impressive two-under round, nullifying a pair of bogeys with a pair of birdies. The highlight of the Wake Forest, N.C. native’s day was an eagle on No. 15, one of eight that occurred throughout the field Sunday.
“Since it was a shotgun start this morning, it just so happened that I had two par 5s in my first three holes, and both were reachable in two,” Smalley said. “I knew I could have some pretty good chances to pick up some shots on those holes if I hit solid shots, and I did. After that my iron game was pretty strong and when I missed the green, I missed it in the right place so that I could get up and down pretty easily. Played pretty solid all day and I’m happy with the score I posted.”
Jake Shuman matched his teammate’s effort, posting a score of 69 (-2) that saw a continuance of birdie play that began in the team’s last tournament where he would tally 13 over three days. The senior recorded another seven on Sunday, edging his five bogeys to keep him under par and as a result, entering Monday with a share of sixth.
Shuman opened up to what the past few weeks have done for him both mentally and physically.
“Today was another roller coaster of a first round for me,” Shuman admitted. “After getting back from Cabo, the coaches and I sat down and reflected on what worked well for many of the holes. When I give myself permission to attack pins and not worry about the result, I'm able to commit to my swings much better. I've hit a lot of good iron shots the last four rounds and that's led to a few more birdies than normal. I've also worked very hard on my green reading lately and seeing the lines better. So far, that seems to be paying off.”
Shuman also spoke on today’s results, echoing a similar sentiment that existed after such a strong tournament in Cabo earlier this month.
“I was happy to get off to a good start in this event. It's a strong course where you have to truly golf your ball in every facet of your game to score. Getting off to a good start and not having to play "catch up" is a nice feeling. I got to the course this morning ready to be aggressive and get off to a quick start. Luckily, I made a 30-footer on the first hole and was off and running. I think having good starts at both here and Cabo are a testament to the prep we do in Durham and the work we put in during the practice rounds.”
Freshman Adrien Pendaries was hit with a bogey on No. 15, as well as a pair of double bogeys on Nos. 3 and 14, but he managed to secure a trio of birdies to keep his score at 73 (+2).
Sophomore Steven DiLisio shot an opening round of 75 (+4) that consisted of five bogeys and a birdie on No. 15.
Chandler Eaton’s day was marred by a double bogey on No. 12 and a triple on No. 13; however, the sophomore was able to reduce the damage with three birdies on the day, including back-to-back birdies on holes 6 and 7. On the afternoon, the Alpharetta, Ga. local finished with a five-over 76.
The Blue Devils will return for day two tomorrow, trailing tournament leader and current No. 1 team in the nation Oklahoma State by nine strokes.
Live scoring will be available via golfstatresults.com, and a recap of the round will be posted at GoDuke.com.