NEW LONDON, N.C. – A sunshine-filled Friday saw the completion of the ACC Championship’s first round, with Duke concluding its afternoon under par with a two-under 286.
Opening up action at the Old North State Club (par 72, 7,102 yards), the Blue Devils battled a strong conference field, finishing the round ninth—one stroke behind N.C. State (285, -3).
Sophomore Chandler Eaton saw great success in the opening round of his second ACC Tournament, carding six birdies and just two bogeys to give him a score of 68 (-4).
Even with capturing back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, Eaton’s true highlight of the day came on 12, where the Alpharetta, Ga. local would hole-out for birdie from roughly 100 yards out following a shot from the trees to set himself up in the clear of the fairway.
"I stayed patient and just let the birdies come," said Eaton. "It was fun to see some putts go in...I've been struggling a little bit with putting which is usually my forte.
Obviously the team didn't do what we wanted, but I think we're all in a good place. There's so much time left, so we just have to keep our heads up."
Junior Alex Smalley had himself an impressive day as well, finishing with a 70 (-2) that featured five birdies, including back-to-back pairs on Nos. 4 and 5 followed by another on Nos. 10 and 11.
"In the first round, you want to get off to a solid start--a reasonable start--and I think that's what I did," Smalley said.
"We're still in it. If we can go out there and play like we did second round at MacGregor Downs in Cary last week, we'll be right up there at the top of the leaderboard. I know we can do it, we've done it before so we just have to go prove it to ourselves."
Katz opened up with back-to-back birdies on 1 and 2, and would duplicate on 11 and 12. Five bogeys and a double, however, would create a roller coaster day for the first-year Blue Devil.
Katz responded nicely to a bogey-double sequence on 13 and 14 in particular, answering with a solid par on 15 and his fifth and final birdie on 16.
Pendaries’ day featured a healthy dose of pars, but the start would prove to be a struggle as he would tally two bogeys and a double within his first four holes.
Following that stretch, however, the freshman would round out his afternoon in clean fashion, shooting a bogeyless back nine that included the two birdies he would garner for the round.
Jake Shuman’s day started off with a bang as the Needham, Mass. native dropped in an eagle on the par 5 No. 1. Shuman would be hit with eight bogeys in total, but would go on to snare birdies on 11 and 16 to push his score to 76 (+4) for the afternoon.
Head coach Jamie Green spoke on the team's performance following the round.
"If there's one area that maybe we didn't do quite as well today that I know we've done better and will expect to do better tomorrow is the maintaining of level headedness," Green observed. "But the golf course is out there to be gotten. We're looking forward to a day of optimism and a day where guys step in with the belief that they can get things done."
Leaderboard Through First Round:
Duke will return for the second round tomorrow, slated to begin at 9:00 a.m.
The Blue Devils will be teeing off of Hole 10 in the order of Shuman, Pendaries, Katz, Smalley and Eaton.
Live scoring will be available via golfstatresults.com, and a recap will be posted to GoDuke.com following the conclusion of the round.