RADFORD, VA -- Sophomore Julian Suri posted a two-under 70 and senior Wes Roach bounced back with a one-under 71 on Friday to pace Duke to a second-day low round of two-over 290 at the NCAA East Regional. The Blue Devils enter tomorrow's final round at the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech in second place and just three shots off the tournament lead.
"It is a terrific thing when we can get a couple of guys under par on a course like this, but when adding up four scores on the day, everyone of those shots our guys hit were big," said head coach Jamie Green. "To a man they played with conviction. You could see a focus and calmness in their eyes. As we said yesterday there were going to be a couple of times that they hit shots exactly how they meant to and it still didn't quite work out all that great. They made the most of what they had, capitalized on some good opportunities and never hung their heads. They had their chins up, their eyes were focused and they were really making great decisions all day."
Georgia Tech holds the 36-hole lead with a six-over 582 with Duke in second at +9 (585). Oklahoma (+12, 588), Kent State (+16, 592) and LSU (+20, 596) round out the top five. Coastal Carolina is sixth with a +23 599 followed by Virginia Tech (+24, 600), Virginia (+26, 602), East Carolina (+30, 606), Lamar (+36, 612), Mississippi (+41, 617), UNC Wilmington (+42, 618) and Yale (+42, 618). The top five teams advance to the NCAA Championships (March 31 - June 5) at Karsten Creek Country Club in Stillwater, Okla.
"There is no doubt that our guys are making some birdies and those are huge, but sometimes on this kind of golf course when you can make a bogey and it doesn't get bigger it can be a be a big deal for you throughout the day," said Green. "All of our guys were in some difficult circumstances at some point or another but they stayed calm and determined, and their minds remained focused. That is what allowed them to put up good numbers today."
Abraham Ancer (Oklahoma) and Kyle Scott (Georgia Tech) share the individual lead at three-under. They are the only two players under-par in the field of 75 players. Suri is five shots back and tied for 10th at two-over (146).
Suri played nearly error-free golf on Friday with three birdies, 14 pars and just one bogey. He got to one-under in his round with a birdie on the par 4 second hole before suffering the lone bogey of the day on No. 6. Suri quickly recovered with a birdie on the par 3 seventh hole and added a birdie on the par 5 12th hole to move to two-under. The St. Augustine, Fla., native closed with six straight pars to climb 26 spots into a tie for 10th heading into the final round.
"Julian's round was almost a good bit better than his scorecard reflected," said Green. "There were probably three or four putts out there that either hung on the lip or came just a half of rotation of the golf ball short of the hole. He was sharp from the first shot of the day through 18 green. His imagination and talent around the greens is so good that it makes a difference on a day like today."
Roach moved into a tie for 17th at four-over (148) after recording a one-under 71 in the second round. The Knoxville, Tenn., native opened the day with a birdie on No. 1 before slipping back to even-par with a bogey on the par 4 fourth hole. He birdied the 599-yard, par 5 ninth hole to make the turn at one-under and parred the first five holes of the back nine before suffering his second bogey of the round on No. 15. Roach recovered with a birdie on the par 5 16th hole and closed par-par for his eighth under-par round of the season.
"Today's round was a good shot in the arm for Wes and he earned it," said Green. "He set his jaw and really got the job done. He did a lot of things well, but perhaps mostly he chipped and pitched it terrifically. Wes is a very good player and has been a strong leader for us in a lot of ways. That was a good thing for our team for him to be able to do that today and should be a big confidence boost for him individually."
Freshman Austin Cody battled throughout the day en route to a two-over 74. He is tied for 12th overall with a three-over 147 heading into the final round. The North Charleston, S.C., native birdied both par 5s (No. 3 & No. 9) on the front nine but also had three bogeys to make the turn a one-over. He slipped to +3 following bogeys on No. 11 and No. 12. Cody countered with birdies on the par 4 15th and par 5 16th holes to get back to one-over before ending the day with a bogey on No. 18.
Gornik began the day with five straight pars before bogeying the par 4 sixth hole. He birdied No. 8 to get to even-par but gave a stroke back with a bogey on No. 9. The Ljubljana, Slovenia, native got back to even-par with a birdie on No. 10 before suffering a double-bogey on the par 4 11th hole. He added a birdie on No. 12 but again slipped to +2 with a bogey on No. 14. Gornik tacked on his fourth birdie on the round on the par 4 15th hole but that was quickly erased by a double-bogey on No. 16. He recovered to par No. 17 and No. 18 to post a counting team score for the 23rd time this season.
Paolini parred his opening three holes on Friday before running into trouble with three bogeys and a double-bogey over the next four holes. He carded his lone birdie of the day on No. 9 to make the turn at four-over. Paolini parred six holes on the back nine but had bogeys on both par 5s and on No. 18 to finish at seven-over.
Duke begins final round play on Saturday at 9 am and will be paired with Georgia Tech and Oklahoma. Live scoring for the event is available at www.golfstat.com.
*** Duke's two-over 290 was the low round of the day and the second-lowest round of the tournament.
*** Duke has a tournament-best 37 birdies through the first two rounds.
*** Suri is now tied for the team lead with nine under-par rounds after posting a two-under 70 on Friday ... he has 18 career under-par rounds in two season at Duke.
*** Suri has been under par in five of the last six rounds.
*** Suri had just one bogey in the second round after suffering six bogeys and a double-bogey on Thursday.
*** With a one-under 71 in the second round, Roach moved into a tie for ninth at Duke with 27 career under-par rounds ... he is also tied for ninth with 40 career rounds at even-par or better.
*** Roach is tied for third on the team with eight under-par rounds this season.
*** Suri and Roach accounted for two of the 10 under-par rounds on Friday ... Duke and Oklahoma were the only two schools with more than one player under-par in the second round.
*** Cody has a team-high nine birdies for the tournament, including four in Friday's second round.