DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s golf team faces one of its toughest tests of the fall at eighth annual United States Collegiate Championship Friday through Sunday at The Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta. The Blue Devils, coming off a third place finish at the Rod Myers Invitational, are joined in the 15-team USCC field by No. 2 Georgia Tech, No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 6 Washington, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 13 UCLA. One of the strongest fields in college golf is rounded out by Virginia (16), Kent State (17), Auburn (23), Clemson (t-24), Southern Cal, Iowa, Wake Forest and East Tennessee State.
“The Golf Club at Georgia is one of the better tests we play throughout the year,” said head coach Jamie Green. “Combine that with one of the strongest fields and we’re very honored and appreciative of the invite to come back. They do a great job. Everything is first class. The greens are primed, hard and fast. A golf course with this type of greens always demands focus and the best shot selection you can give it.”
The Blue Devils will field a lineup of Motin Yeung, Max Greyserman, Alexander Matlari, Yaroslav Merkulov and Michael Ricaurte for the USCC at the 7,017-yard, par 72 Lakeside Course at The Golf Club of Georgia. The 54-hole event begins at 8:50 a.m. Friday, with all 78 competitors teeing off at the first tee. Play continues with round two Saturday morning and concludes with the final round Sunday.
“I feel great about the guys we have in the lineup this week,” added Green. “We had some pretty solid play in our last event, our home track. Certainly the last couple of rounds is something to build off of. But momentum is nothing more than a state of mind. So, if we can make sure we’re talking about the right things with the players and the players are bouncing the rights things off of each other, in terms of good frame of mind and good game plan on this golf course, I see no reason why we can’t be successful. We’re looking forward to a good week.“
Yeung, a sophomore from Beijing, China, is coming of a tie for sixth at the Rod Myers Invitational. He posted a four-under 212 with back-to-back rounds of 70 to close out the tournament. Yeung leads the Blue Devils with a 72.5 stroke average, while shooting even-par or better in four of his six rounds played. Greyserman and Matlari are tied for second on the team with 73.8 stroke averages. The freshman tandem has combined for seven rounds of even-par or better golf on the season. Greyserman and Yeung share the team lead with three under-par rounds, while Matlari is tied for the team lead with a pair of even-par efforts.
Merkulov boasts a 74.1 stroke average with one under-par round and two even-par outings this fall. The senior from Penfield, N.Y., has played in the USCC on two previous occasions finishing in the top 30 of the field in 2010 and 2011. Merkulov tied for 11th at the Rod Myers Invitational with a one-over 217. He rebounded from an opening round 78 with a 69 and 70 to close out the event. Ricaurte is also coming off his best outing of the fall with a tie for 16th at the Rod Myers Invitational. He posted a 70-77-72=219 at the Duke University Golf Club and now has a 76.2 stroke average this season.
“Obviously there is youth on the team,” Green continued. “We keep mentioning it from tournament to tournament, but in reality, they’ll grow up quickly. These guys are strong players and we’re looking forward to them having a strong week. As far as the returning players, Yarik [Merkulov] has been here before, knows the lay of the land and has had a little bit of success here. Motin has seen the track, but not in tournament competition. For the rest of the lineup, Alex, Max and Mike, this is new exposure for them. We’ll have to make sure we use the most of our time tomorrow in the practice round. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can produce out there.”
This year’s USCC individual champion receives an added bonus with a tournament exemption to compete in June, 2014, in Wichita’s Air Capital Classic Tournament, one of the most prestigious events on the Web.com Tour.
The USCC is unique among all college golf tournaments, with corporate skyboxes around the 18th green, caddies for each player and mandatory long pants for the competitors. The tournament is also carried through a live webcast for the final two rounds, hosted by award-winning sportscaster Brian Katrek of the PGA Tour Network. Live scoring is provided on Golfstatresults.com.