SALEM, S.C. – The best 54-hole scoring mark in program history bumped the No. 9 Duke men’s golf team into a runner-up finish at the Clemson Invitational, which wrapped up Sunday at the Cliffs at Keoweek Golf Club in Salem, S.C.
The Blue Devils finished the three rounds at 823 to cap the event at 41-under par, besting the 37-under par mark from the Louisville Cardinal Challenge this fall. Individually, the squad was paced by sophomore Adrien Pendaries, who finished in solo second-place at a 16-under, 200, one stroke behind Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer.
No. 8 Georgia Tech took the title for the 15-team event after posting a 269 Sunday to finish the tournament at 52-under par. The Blue Devils held second with No. 14 Georgia in third at 34-under, 830 and No. 17 Clemson rounding out the event at 28-under, 836 to place fourth.
“Hats off to Georgia Tech for its performance this weekend,” head coach Jamie Green said. “When four of your golfers finish in the top five, it’s pretty hard to not win the event. Congratulations to them on an outstanding performance. When I evaluate our team, I look at how we do versus ourselves and how we do versus how we’re capable of doing. When I look at this weekend, that was a win for us. I view a lot of what we accomplished this week as controlling what we can control. We did a pretty good job of that.”
Pendaries, a native of France, complimented a first-round 64 with second and third rounds at 68 to stand alone in second overall with a career-best 16-under, 200. On Sunday, Pendaries turned in a strong back nine with three birdies to finish second to Nimmer, who played the final round at an eight-under 64.
“I’m a competitor,” Pendaries said. “It definitely stings to come so close. But at the same time, I played great golf, made only one bogey all week and made a bunch of birdies. I’m very proud of the way I played this week and how I have progressed in the past couple of months. I’m also extremely proud of the team. Even though we finished second, we broke another school scoring record and played some really good golf from start to finish. We are trending in the right direction at an important time of the year. We couldn’t be more excited.”
Sophomore Evan Katz jumped hopped up two more spots on the leaderboard Sunday to finish tied for seventh with a career-best 10-under, 206. Katz blazed through Sunday with his best round of the weekend at 67, one shot better than Saturday’s performance. After starting with birdies one two of the first six holes, Katz sat just one under par through the 13th hole before drilling four consecutive birdies and an even par to finish at five under for the day.
“We did set the school record today and it’s pretty special to do it once not long ago and to do it again this spring,” Green added. “It says a lot about our team and how these guys can play a lot of different courses and find success. Our guys, even though they’re not playing together, feed off each other. There’s a good energy in this group.”
Also turning in his top showing of the weekend was junior Chandler Eaton with a six-under, 66 on the day. Eaton, who closed with a birdie, birdie and eagle stretch to boost his position, climbed four spots on the leaderboard to finish tied for 12th with a nine-under, 207. Senior Alex Smalley finished in a tie for 16th after a three-under, 69 on Sunday, his best round by a stroke. Smalley played a three-under-par back nine and ended the event with a six-under, 210.
“The last time we set the school record like this, Alex got the overall win,” Green continued. “This weekend goes to show the depth and ability for more than one guy to carry this club. To have three of Alex’s teammates playing better this weekend even shows what could have been, if we were completely firing on all cylinders. There were really, really accomplished players at the top of the leaderboard this weekend. When you have great scoring conditions, very low scores can happen. It’s still competition and you still have to have a winner. Everybody is hunting that lowest score. Congratulations again to Georgia Tech. We look forward to seeing them and all the other ACC clubs again soon.”
Junior Steven DiLisio completed the Duke contingent tied for 44th at four-over, 220.
The Blue Devils return to action Friday for the Stitch Intercollegiate at MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary, N.C.
Duke at Clemson Invitational (2nd; 275-278-270=823, -41)
2nd – Adrien Pendaries (64-68-68=200, -16)
T7th – Evan Katz (71-68-67=206, -10)
T12th -- Chandler Eaton (69-72-66=207, -9)
T16th – Alex Smalley (71-70-69=210, -6)
T44th – Steven DiLisio (71-74-75=220, +6)