FORT WORTH, Texas -- The No. 9 Duke men's golf team has surged to the top of leaderboard at the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational, firing a six-under 274 as a team Monday and holding a two-stroke lead heading to Tuesday’s final round at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Senior Alex Smalley posted the low round of the day with a four-under 66, while junior Chandler Eaton was one of only six players in the field to card a 67. Duke’s 274 team score was the best by any team in the field over two days and gives the Blue Devils a two-stroke cushion over No. 13 Clemson with 18 holes remaining.
“We had a really good day,” said head coach Jamie Green. “Our guys did an excellent job of playing with a lot of confidence and picking the golf course apart. The course is a great test. What I saw in our guys today, is we positioned it well and fought through the course to make it as stress-free as possible. We had really good demeanor and we had a magnificent short game from top to bottom.”
All five of Eaton’s birdies came on the front side as the junior went out in 31 and finished the day at three-under 67, totaling just 27 putts in the round. His 36-hole score of 137 (-3) has him tied for the 36-hole individual lead with eight other golfers.
“Today was one of the better rounds of golf I’ve played this year,” said the Alpharetta, Ga., native. “The golf course is so demanding that you have to be in control of your game and emotions. I putted well and hit most fairways which is a recipe for a good round. I was resilient when things didn’t go well and took advantage of the great shots I hit. We’re in position and we have a great opportunity to do something special tomorrow.”
Smalley closed strong with four of his six birdies coming on the back on the way to his four-under 66. His 36-hole score of even par has him tied for 11th with 18 holes to play. Sophomore Evan Katz shaved two strokes off Sunday’s round with a 69 Monday, and he’s among the group tied for 11th.
Sophomore Adrien Pendaries, who book-ended his Monday round with an eagle on the par-5 first hole and a birdie on the par-4 18th, shot 72 and is tied for 20th after 36 holes (70+72=142). Sophomore Qi wen Wong is tied for 72nd (78+76=154).
Duke (285+274=559) enters Tuesday’s final round two strokes up on ACC rival No. 13 Clemson (282+279=561), five up on No. 8 Texas and Wake Forest and 10 clear of No. 16 Vanderbilt. Of the 15 teams in the field, seven are ranked in the Top 25.