DURHAM, N.C. – After a strong fall, Duke men’s golf will open up its spring schedule this week in the Sea Best Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Host Jacksonville University will welcome 14 other teams to the TPC Sawgrass – Dye’s Valley Course (6,873 yds., Par 70) for 54 holes of golf (36-18) starting Monday, February 5 at 8:00 a.m. with a shotgun start.
The event will wrap up on Tuesday, February 6 with a round of 18 beginning at 8:00 a.m. via a double tee start.
The field contains five top-25 teams, including Florida (7), LSU (11), Arkansas (20), Duke (23) and North Carolina (24).
The Gators, who are just a two-hour drive away from Ponte Vedra Beach, took the team and individual crowns in 2017, shooting an 836 as a unit with Ryan Orr carding a 204.
North Florida (27), Tennessee (28) and South Florida (43) also stand currently within the top 50, with Libscomb, Campbell, Liberty, East Carolina, Jacksonville, USC Upstate and Winthrop rounding out the pack.
Head coach Jamie Green has elected to travel six Blue Devils for competition in the form of a five-man lineup and one individual.
Duke veteran Alex Smalley will lead the way with the No. 1 spot. The junior, who was an All-ACC selection last year, is coming off a strong fall season that saw him finish with a share of the team’s best stroke average (70.67). Smalley’s best finish came at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate, where he finished third.
Coming in at No. 2 is freshman Evan Katz, who currently shares with teammate Smalley the program’s lowest scoring average this season. In the fall, Katz saw action in three tournaments highlighted by a T-2 finish at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate. With that effort, the Washington D.C. boasted a score of 204, which, by the conclusion of the fall, proved to be the team’s lowest.
Duke’s other All-ACC selection in 2017, Chandler Eaton, will hold down the No. 3 spot in the lineup. The sophomore, similar to the two above him, also shined in the months of September and October. A 71.33 stroke average lands Eaton third on the team in that category thus far, and this week he will look to top his best finish from the fall, a third-place effort in the Rod Myers Invitational.
Freshman Adrien Pendaries will be playing in his fourth tournament as a Blue Devil in the No. 4 spot. The Neuilly-sur-Seine, France native managed to secure a top-10 and top-20 finish in the fall, and had a 72.77 stroke average to show for it.
Senior Adam Wood will round out the lineup at No. 5. The first half of Wood’s 2017-2018 campaign was highlighted by a strong showing at the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational which possessed one of the nation’s most elite fields. It was there that he opened up the event with a round of 66 (-5) which ultimately helped push him to a 207 (-6) for the weekend, reeling in a T-10 finish. He will be bringing with him to Florida a 73.25 stroke average.
Representing Duke as an individual will be freshman Qiwen Wong, who broke onto the collegiate scene last fall by competing in his only event of the season, the Grandover Collegiate.
Head coach Jamie Green feels confident about his team's opening event of the spring. "Everybody on the team is excited to get the spring season started," Green said. "We had an opportunity to come down and take a look at the golf course a couple weeks ago, so that was great for our guys. We're excited to see how we measure up, and we're thrilled to have all three freshman down on this trip. We're looking forward to getting going."
Live scoring will be available via golfstat.com, and recaps will be posted following both days of action right here on GoDuke.com.