DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 24 Duke men’s golf team will open its season this weekend when it hosts the eighth annual Rod Myers Invitational from Sept. 16-17 at the Duke University Golf Club (par 72, 7,154 yards).
The 54-hole event will feature 36 holes of play on Saturday and an 18-hole final round on Sunday, with tee times beginning at 7:35 a.m. ET on Saturday and 7:55 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Duke has hosted an intercollegiate men’s golf tournament for the past 44 years, and the event was rebranded in 2010 as a tribute to longtime head coach Rod Myers. Myers, who passed away in 2007 after a battle with an acute form of leukemia, guided the Blue Devils to 30 tournament wins, the 2005 ACC championship and seven NCAA Championships appearances during his 34-year tenure at the helm of the program.
A highly-respected member of both the Duke and national golf communities, Myers mentored 16 All-Americans, nine Academic All-Americans, 24 All-ACC selections and three ACC individual champions at Duke.
Duke claimed back-to-back Rod Myers Invitational titles in 2011 and 2012 with former Blue Devil Julian Suri winning the individual medal both years.
Joining the Blue Devils in a talent-packed field will be No. 3 Vanderbilt, No. 8 Wake Forest, No. 10 Oregon, East Carolina, East Tennessee State, Liberty, Louisville, Penn State, Princeton, UC Davis, and UNC Greensboro.
This year will be head coach Jamie Green’s 10th at the helm of Duke men’s golf, and he will be looking to build off the success that the 2016-2017 team garnered, capping off the season with a trip to Sugar Grove, Ill. for the NCAA National Championships.
“The guys are always as hyped for this event as any we play in all year,” Green said. “It holds, obviously, special memories of Coach Myers for a lot of folks on campus, and a lot of people who come back, as well as volunteers who want to be a part of the event. As far as our preparation goes, it’s been really good. Having a fun, competitive but relaxed event last weekend in the Blue Devil Cup and having a good week to qualify and get dialed into this golf course should suit us pretty well. Sadler Stowe and his staff have done a terrific job with all the different weather patterns we’ve had come through. We say every year that it’s in good shape, but it truly is going to be one of the better conditioned golf courses that we’ll play in tournament competition this year.”
Green will put forth 10 members of his team into action with a five-man lineup and five individuals.
Owning the No. 1 position in the Blue Devil lineup for the second straight year at the Rod Myers Invitational will be Chandler Eaton. The Alpharetta, Ga. was one of Duke’s two All-ACC selections last season.
A 2016-2017 All-ACC Academic Team selection, Jake Shuman, will hold down the No. 2 position in the lineup.
“I don’t think Jake has ever had a poor tournament in this event,” recalled Green. “I think he’s always been, if not in contention, a top-10 or top-20 finisher, so he’s another one of our guys who feels comfortable on these grounds.”
Following him at No. 3 will be junior Alex Smallley, the team’s other All-ACC selection from last year.
Green commented on both of his All-ACC members from last year, and the impact they are set to have on this year’s program.
“Obviously with what Chandler showed in his freshman campaign, and what Alex Smalley has continued to do to push the seniors while also maintaining a high bar, we’re in really good shape.”
Senior and Zionsville, Ind. native Adam Wood will enter the tournament in the No. 4 spot.
“Adam has competed well, specifically in this tournament,” Green noted. “His sophomore year, he’s one putt away from taking home the individual trophy. I know he’s hungry for that opportunity again. Certainly having him in our lineup bodes well for our team’s chances, because when you can put a lot of experience with a lot of talent in there, it gives us the best chance as we can get.”
Lastly, Sophomore Harrison Taee will round out the lineup at No. 5.
“Harrison, who is new to our lineup, came in last year and felt comfortable right away,” said Green. “The guys have embraced his skill and desire. He’s got a wonderfully-upbeat and positive energy that he brings to the group. When you can add that to experience with all the guys around him, that really puts us in a good place.”
Green touched on the excitement he feels for being able to have nearly the entire team go out this weekend and battle it out with some of the best that collegiate golf has to offer.
“Anytime you can get all of your players out there competing early in the year, it really just shows you where you are,” he said. “When you can put a score up there and it compares to some of the best players in the nation, it really is going to be a good spotlight on where our guys are.”
Live scoring for the Rod Myers Invitational will be available via golfstatresults.com.
Duke University Golf Club
The Duke University Golf Club has hosted a pair of NCAA Championships (1962 and 2001) and is consistently ranked among the top college courses in the country.
Construction of the course was originally planned to begin prior to World War II, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 put the plans on hold. After the war, the present site of 300 acres was selected. The property was carefully chosen for the unique elevation changes of its mildly rolling terrain.
In 1955, Duke sought out Robert Trent Jones, whose golf course architecture was widely respected. On Sept. 26, 1957, Duke University Golf Club opened to the public and was immediately labeled one of the top university golf facilities in the nation. The accolades were great enough to attract the 1962 NCAA Championships.
Ironically, there was a soon-to-be famous golf course architect playing in that NCAA field for Yale University. His name was Rees Jones, eldest son of the Duke golf course designer.
In 1988, university officials recognized that that golf course needed restoration. While no one denied the magnificent routing of its holes, length needed to be increased to account for the advancement of modern golf. Rees Jones, then a master architect in his own right, was the only choice for this redesign.
Final major construction began in June 1993 and was completed in April 1994. It would be difficult to describe the loving care that Rees Jones put into the design of each and every feature of the course. Throughout the redesign, he scrutinized every shot possibility, observed and considered every angle to insure that each nuance of the course would be subtle and perfectly placed.
The course underwent a second restoration in the summer of 2013. The half-million dollars’ worth of renovations, centering mainly on greens and tee boxes, was again directed by Rees Jones. The greens now feature Champion Bermuda grass and have been expanded by roughly 33 percent, back to the size they were originally designed by Robert Trent Jones roughly 60 years ago.
The approaches to all 18 greens were resurfaced and replanted with Tifgrand Bermuda to create a smooth playing surface. The improvements also provide an ecological benefit, as the new grasses use less water and chemicals to maintain, resulting in the economic benefit of lower operational costs.