DURHAM, N.C. – Having previously won their eighth ACC Championship in one of the toughest conference tournaments in the country, Duke will be firing on all cylinders heading into the 2017 NCAA regional tournament in Baton Rouge, LA.
The tournament will take place on the grounds of the University Club (par 72) at Louisiana State University, with competition beginning Monday, May 15. The event will be a three-day, 54-hole tournament, with 18 holes of golf played each day. The first two days of play will see action beginning at 8 a.m. (CT), and 7:30 a.m. (CT) on the final day.
Getting things started Monday at 8 a.m. (CT) on hole No. 1 will be (1) LSU, (2) Oregon, (3) Virginia, (7) Jacksonville, (8) Kentucky, (9) South Florida, (13) Loyola-Maryland, (14) Alabama State, and individuals. Teeing off from No. 10 at 8:20 a.m. (CT) will be (4) Duke, (5) Northwestern, (6) Arkansas, (10) Iowa, (11) Georgia State and (12) Jacksonville State.
Having performed in dominating fashion in the ACC Championship, head coach Jamie Green has elected to put forth the same slate of golfers that he had chosen to compete in Clinton, S.C.
Sophomore Alex Smalley, who led the way for the Blue Devils in the conference tournament, enters the Baton Rouge Regional about as hot as a golfer can be. With his fifth-place, 212 (-4) performance at the ACCs, the Wake Forest, N.C. native claimed the team-lead in stroke average, taking with him a 71.30 mark into Monday. Smalley's best finish this year came in the form of a second-place finish in the Grand Canyon Invitational in March, helping the team secure its second of three titles this season.
Boasting the team's best against par mark at -0.13, senior Alexander Matlari enters his final regional tournament with great momentum behind him. Putting together an under par effort in the ACC Championship, the Leimen, Germany native brings with him the third best stroke average among his teammates, a solid 71.42. Earlier this season, he highlighted his team's GCU Invitational win with a career-low and course record 63 (-8) round that propelled him to a fourth-place finish.
Another senior looking to continue a stretch of splendid golf is Matt Oshrine, who, in addition to recording a 215 (-1) in Clinton, S.C., finished as Duke's low man in the team's last regular season tournament—the Wolfpack Spring Open in Raleigh, N.C.—where he shot a 209 (-4). He owns a 71.96 stroke average through 23 rounds of golf this season.
Junior Jake Shuman has had a habit of surprising people this season, and he did just that in the conference tournament where he entered fifth on the Blue Devils' lineup before garnering an eighth-place finish on the leaderboards that would prove to be good enough for second-best on the team. His 214 (-2) effort was a continuance of impressive play, as the Needham, Mass. local would represent Duke in the Wolfpack Spring Open as an individual prior to the ACCs and shoot under par there as well.
Chandler Eaton enters his first regional as a Blue Devil having already cemented this season as one of the most magnificent among rookie campaigns in program history. Despite recently surrendering the team lead in the stroke average category, it should be noted that it was not a result of poor play from the freshman. Eaton finished his first ACC Championship at even-par and 14th on the leaderboard, a testament to the consistency that has characterized his play throughout the year. He currently owns a 71.39 average, and -0.06 against par mark.
Serving as an alternate for Duke in Baton Rouge will be Adam Wood. The junior who hails from Zionsville, Ind. has played in nine tournaments this season and has a 72.58 stroke average to his name.
Head coach Jamie Green recently expressed the confidence he has in his team's preparation and overall state heading into the next level of the postseason.
“Our guys are hungry. They can't wait to do the next thing. They've got big dreams and big goals for the rest of the year,” Green said. “The regional is an interesting time of the year because it doesn't matter what you're ranked. You can throw that stuff out the window. Truly, everybody is starting with no advantage or disadvantage in the sense that we're all tied for first and it's just a matter of who gets the job done from there.”
In nine seasons under Green, Duke has qualified for NCAA Regionals eight times and advanced to the NCAA Championships on four occasions, including a national semifinal appearance in 2011.
The Blue Devils will be seeking their second regional title, their first since 2011 when they were crowned champions of the Radford, Va. Regional. Overall, Duke has placed in the top five a total of six times in program history.
In each of the six regionals, the top five teams will advance to the NCAA Championship, which is slated for May 26-31 in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Live scoring will be available for the entirety of the tournament via golfstatresults.com.