DURHAM, N.C. – Duke’s final round rally came up just short as the ninth annual Rod Myers Invitational wrapped up Sunday at the Duke University Golf Club.
Chandler Eaton’s final-round 67 (-5) paced the Blue Devils, who entered Sunday nine strokes back of the lead. The Blue Devils closed the gap, and briefly held the team lead on the back nine, before Penn State reestablished the advantage and held on for a two stroke win.
The Nittany Lions shot a 287 on Sunday and finished the tournament with a 12-under score of 852. Duke and North Carolina each ended two strokes back at 10-under, followed by Florida State (-4) and Cincinnati (+2) to round out the top five.
"We talked last night about defending our turf and finding ways to put more pressure on the golf course than we did Saturday," said head coach Jamie Green. "Nobody wants to have to climb from too much of a deficit, but we’re so proud of how the guys stepped up today. Obviously Penn State played extremely well, and John Pak from Florida State went low, so there were numbers out there. No excuses by us, just congrats to those other teams and players."
Eaton’s sizzling 67 on Sunday, which featured five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 ninth, was the low round of day. It allowed the junior from Alpharetta, Ga., to surge 10 places to a solo second-place finish at six-under.
“Today I was really focused just doing one thing at a time, and being very deliberate on the course,” said Eaton. “I thought I did a really good job of being patient and let the birdies come to me. I love to putt, so all I had to do was just get it on the green and I was fortunate to make some putts today.”
Sophomore Adrien Pendaries and senior Alex Smalley each carded rounds of 3-under 69 for the Blue Devils, who shot 280 as a team on Sunday – the second-lowest team round of the tournament.
"It was thrilling to watch our guys make a strong run today and I know they had fun doing it," said Green. "We were tied for the lead at one point down the stretch with four or five to play, after starting the day nine shots back. Our guys played pretty well to end the tournament, but Penn State’s players made a few impressive saves and didn’t give up any shots coming in. And that ended up being the difference."
Pendaries (-4) birdied five holes on Sunday and finished tied for sixth overall with rounds of 73, 70 and 69, while Smalley (-1), who played a bogey-free back nine of 32 on Sunday, was tied for 21st. Qi wen Wong and Shrish Dwivedi were each three-over for the tournament.
After opening on Saturday with a team score of 278, Penn State followed with consecutive rounds of 287 to claim the team title. Charles Huntzinger paced winners with a score of 212 (-4), which was tied for sixth.
Florida State’s John Pak, who carded a tournament and course record 62 (-10) in the first round, went wire-to-wire for individual medalist honors. He backed up the 62 with rounds of 69 and 72, and his 13-under score of 203 was the second-lowest in the tournament’s history.
Individually for Duke, Harrison Taee had his best finish as a Blue Devil with a five-under 211 that was good for third. He posted rounds of 70, 67 and 74. Evan Katz was three-under for the weekend with rounds of 72, 71 and 70. He was followed by Steven DiLisio (+3) and Quinn Riley (+4).
“One of the things that makes this tournament special is that everyone on the team plays in it every year,” said Green. “That’s the fun part of hosting an event, and our players and their families look forward to coming. That means so much to the seniors – regardless of the career they’ve had or how well they’ve played in the tournament in the past. I just want to applaud Shrish and Alex – both being in the lineup – and neither of them had their best stuff this weekend. The fact they gutted out everything they could and we still had a chance to win -- that’s pretty special.”
Duke is back in action next weekend at the Louisville Cardinal Challenge hosted by the University of Louisville. PLay begins Friday at the U of L Golf Club.