BRADENTON, FLA. -- The Duke men's golf team posted two decisive victories on Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. The Blue Devils, the defending champions at the event, defeated 14th-seeded Arizona State 3-1-1 in the opening round before topping sixth-seeded Indiana, 4-1, in the afternoon quarterfinals.
"Two team wins together, which is obviously the goal to keep moving on in the winner's bracket," said head coach Jamie Green. "We had three guys win both of their matches today, Julian [Suri], Brinson [Paolini], and Austin [Cody]. It just shows what strong players they are especially in this format, which is certainly part of the team's success."
Duke will face second-seeded California, while top-seed Arkansas will meet fifth-seeded Chattanooga on the other side of the bracket on Monday.
Juniors Brinson Paolini and Julian Suri along with sophomore Austin Cody posted wins in the morning session, while Tim Gornik halved his match. Suri posted a 4 and 2 win over Spencer Fletcher in the opening round Sunday morning. The match was decided after 16 holes, with Suri winning six holes, losing two holes, and tying seven holes. The St. Augustine, Fla. native finished the round with three birdies.
After splitting four of their first five holes with the match starting on No. 15, Paolini carded birdies on No. 2, No. 5 No. 6 and No. 7 to take a 4-up lead. Paolini, who lead the majority of the match, never looked back on route to carding a 3 and 2 victory over Mathias Schjoelberg.
Cody recorded a 5 and 4 win over Stan Gautier. After splitting three of the first four holes, Cody grabbed a 2-up lead with victories on No. 18, No. 3 and No. 4. The South Carolina native went on to win three of his next six holes to give him a five-up lead. Suri, Paolini and Cody combined to trail for just one hole during their opening round matches.
Gornik halved his match with Cameron Palmer. After losing the first hole, Gornik and Palmer split the next three consecutive holes before the Blue Devil junior birdied No. 4 to tie it up. Palmer controlled the majority of the match as Gornik attempted to keep it close as the pair went on to split the next eight holes. The Ljubljana, Slovenia native, collected a birdie on No. 16 to take his first lead of the match. Palmer recovered to birdie the par 5 17th hole to halve the match.
Sophomore Yaroslav Merkulov lost a back and fourth battle to Austin Quick, who posted a 2 and 1 victory over the Blue Devil. After splitting the opening hole, Merkulov jumped out to a 1-up lead before splitting the next two holes. The Penfield, N.Y. native, lost the lead on No. 3 after collecting a bogey on the par five. Merkulov dropped to two holes back before carding a birdie on the par 3 11th hole to move to 1-down. He matched Quick shot for shot over three holes before dropping the 2 and 1 decision after a bogey on the par four 15th hole..
Duke ran its wins streak at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play to five straight matches over the last two seasons with a 4-1 win over Indiana. Merkulov and Paolini posted commanding victories, while Suri and Cody gutted out tough matches. Indiana earned its lone point with a narrow 1-up win by David Erdy over Gornik.
Merkulov never trailed in his match with Corey Ziedonis en route to a 6 and 5 victory. Merkulov carded three birdies over the first five holes to grab an early 2-up lead. He added wins on No. 5, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 to go 6-up in the match. Ziedonis won the par four ninth hole, but Merkulov added a win on No. 10 and parred the par 3 11th hole to close out the match.
"Yaroslav [Merkulov] struggled a little bit in the morning round, and I know he was disappointed he had a chance to win the match on the last hole," said Green. "I know he was a little bummed out, but he turned his energy into a positive and dominated his second match."
Paolini cruised to a 5 and 4 victory of David Mills of Indiana in the second round. Paolini jumped out to an early 3-up lead after winning three of the first four holes. The Virginia Beach, Va., native played the first four holes at three-under with an eagle on the par 5 17th hole. He moved to 4-up with a birdie on the par five third hole but gave a hole back with a bogey on No. 4. He recovered to birdie the par 5 fifth and added a win on No. 7 to move to 5-up. Paolini closed out the match with a birdie on the par 4 10th hole.
Suri registered a 2-up victory over Indiana's Chase Wright in a back and forth quarterfinals battle. The Duke junior won two of the first three holes to jump out to an early 2-up lead. He carried a 1-up lead into No. 3 before Wright squared the match with a birdie. Suri answered with a birdie on the 237-yard, par 3 fourth hole but Wright squared the match for a second time with a par on the following hole. Suri again birdied the par 3 sixth hole to regain the lead before Wright collected wins on No. 8 and No. 10 to go 1-up with three holes remaining. Suri recovered with a par on No. 11 to square the match and then collected birdies on No. 12 and No. 13 to secure the victory.
Cody fell behind early in his match with Brant Peaper before rallying for a 1-up win. Peaper won two of the first three holes to go 2-up and carried a 1-up lead into the No. 3 fourth hole. Cody parred the hole to square the match but Peaper regained the lead on No. 6. Cody birdied the next two holes to flip the ledger, before Peaper countered with a birdie on No. 9 to square the match once again. The Duke sophomore added wins on No. 10 and No. 12 to go 2-up with three holes remaining. He dropped the par 5 13th hole, before collecting pars on No. 14 and No. 15 for the victory.
Gornik won the opening hole with a birdie on the par 4 18th hole for his only lead of the match with Erdy. He dropped the next two holes to fall behind and was 2-down with three holes remaining. Gornik birdied the par four 16th hole to extend the match, but Erdy matched his par on No. 17 to secure the win.
"The guys are excited about tomorrow," Green added. "Cal is in my estimation one of the very best teams in the country. They are strong from one through five, no doubt about it. But again, we believe in our abilities and our guys are definitely confident and looking forward to tomorrow."
Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship
Second Round Results
(1) Arkansas def. (9) East Carolina, 4-1
(5) Chattanooga def. (4) Oklahoma State, 2.5-2.5*
*Chattanooga wins margin of victory tiebreaker 8 holes to 5
(3) Duke def. (6) Indiana, 4-1
(2) California def. (10) Tennessee, 4.5-.05
(8) Iowa def. (16) Washington State, 3-2
(13) Colorado State def. (12) South Florida, 4-1
(14) Arizona State def. (11) Kennesaw State, 3-2
(7) Liberty def. (15) UNCW, 3-2
First Round Results
(1) Arkansas def. (16) Washington State, 3-2
(9) East Carolina def. (8) Iowa, 2.5-2.5*
*East Carolina wins margin of victory tiebreaker 6 holes to 5
(4) Oklahoma State def. (13) Colorado State, 3-1-1
(5) Chattanooga def. (12) South Florida, 4-1
(3) Duke def. (14) Arizona State, 3-1-1
(6) Indiana def. (11) Kennesaw State, 3-1-1
(10) Tennessee def. (7) Liberty, 3-2
(2) California def. (15) UNCW, 3-2