GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Duke fired a team score of 284 (+4) to finish in tie for fifth place at the SunTrust Gator Invitational at the Mark Bostick GC, hosted by the University of Florida. Freshmen Julian Suri and Brinson Paolini both finished in the top 15 of the individual leaderboard.
Florida claimed the team championship with a +1, 841. No. 16 Florida State finished second with a 859 (+19), while Chattanooga (+29, 869), Lamar (+30, 870), Duke (+32, 872) and LSU (+32, 872) rounded out the top 5.
Jonathan Randolph of Mississippi won the individual title with an even-par 210, shooting a 67 in the final round. Andrew Loupe (LSU) finished one shot back, while Tyson Alexander, Andres Echavarria and Tim McKinney tied for third with matching two-over 212s. Suri finished alone in sixth place at three-over.
Duke had a tough stretch of holes in the beginning of the first round, but battled back to stay in contention for the last two rounds of the tournament.
"The guys stayed patient," head coach Jamie Green said. "It is something to build on for the rest of the spring. We struggled a bit in the first round, but we showed some growth and I am proud of that. We had a segment [in the first round] we would like to do it over, but championship teams stay focused and I believe our guys did that well."
Paolini scored a team-low 69 in his final round. The Virginia Beach, Va. native carded four birdies on the par-70 course to finish the final 18-holes in red numbers. Paolini, who began the day in a tie for 26th, tied for 15th with a six-over 216. He was one of just nine golfers (out of a field of 75) to shoot under-par in the final round.
"I got off to good start by making birdie on the first hole," Paolini said. "It was a good contrast to yesterday's round. In the beginning, I had some opportunities that could have been real special. "
Suri continued his solid play, recording rounds of 71-70-72=213 (+3) to finish in sixth place. A product of St. Augustine, Fla., the sixth-place finish was the best showing in Suri's collegiate career. Suri had two birdies and 12 pars in the final round of play and has now finished in the top 20 in all five collegiate events since joined the Duke program.
Sophomore Spencer Anderson had his best round of the tournament on Sunday, firing a one-over 71 to tie for 31st. Anderson improved his scores each round and ended the tournament well after starting the day in a tie for 44th.
Duke will tee it up again at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational (Feb. 28-March 2) in Jacksonville, Fla.