STILLWATER, Okla. – Duke men’s golf made a significant jump up the leaderboard in the second round of the NCAA Championships on Saturday, leaping eight spots from T-11 to T-4 after shooting a one-under 287.
Finding a groove on day two has become a trend for the Blue Devils, dating back to April’s Stitch Intercollegiate.
It was at MacGregor Downs Country Club where the team would jump from 4th to 1st after shooting 18-under in the second round.
Later in the month, Duke vaulted five spots on the second day of the ACC Championship after a 12-under effort.
The theme would hold true in the Raleigh NCAA Regional, as the Blue Devils found themselves tied for third—a leap from 10th just a day before—after going 12-under on the second day for the second straight tournament.
Junior Alex Smalley bounced back impressively from a two-over 74 in his first round, shooting a 69 (-3) as Duke’s low man on Saturday. A bogeyless front nine that featured two birdies paved the way for another two birdies on the back, with Smalley’s only mistake coming on 11 in the form of a bogey.
“I played pretty solid today,” noted Smalley. “I hit it pretty well. I gave myself a lot of looks on the front nine. There wasn’t a lot of stress on that end, so that was good. Got off to a better start obviously than yesterday. I just had a lot of good looks and took advantage of some.”
Sophomore Chandler Eaton rounded out his day with a one-under 71, garnering four birdies in total. The Alpharetta, Ga. native carded a bogey on 10 and a double on 17, but Eaton, playing in his second NCAA Championship in as many years, tapped in for his fourth birdie on 18 to cap the round and finish in the red.
Adrien Pendaries signed for a gutsy one-over 73, tallying four birdies and an eagle in the process. The freshman’s back nine would be marred by three bogeys and a triple on 17, but he would respond with the eagle on his last hole, nailing his chip from the bunker left of the green to end the round on a high note.
Freshman Evan Katz finished the day at two-over, capturing four birdies with three coming on the back nine. With the 74, Katz moved to six-over for the tournament.
Senior Jake Shuman struggled on day two, finishing at nine-over with an 81 after posting five bogeys and two doubles.
In discussing his team’s effort following the second round, head coach Jamie Green was impressed with how his players utilized the knowledge they have accumulated over the past couple days to help them throughout the afternoon.
“They are a smart golf team. They’re studious. After a practice round or a first day, they learn. They don’t just sit back and hope it goes well tomorrow. They know why it would go well tomorrow. That’s the way you’re going to compete at this championship. You got to get through every day. Every little bump in the road, you got to just be able to survive it.”
The Blue Devils will resume action with tomorrow’s third round, the last day in which teams will make the push to crack the top 15 and make the cut for Monday’s final round of stroke play.
The top 15 teams after three rounds of stroke play will duke it out on Monday to determine the eight that will advance to Tuesday’s match play.
Live scoring will continue to be available via golfstatresults.com.