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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Men's Golf Opens NCAA Championship Friday in Fayetteville
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 05/24/2019
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- For the third consecutive season and 24th time in the program’s history, the Duke men’s golf team tees its up at the NCAA Championship that begins Friday at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.

After posting a second-place finish at the Athens Regional, the Blue Devils are one of 30 teams that advanced through last week’s regional round to compete for a national championship. Duke holds the tournament’s overall No. 8 seed, and will play with No. 7 Georgia Tech and No. 9 USC in the first two rounds.

Head Coach Jamie Green sends his same lineup to Fayetteville, as the Blue Devils look to tame the 7,550-yard, par-72 course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., that opened in 2004 and is hosting the NCAA Championship for the first time.

“We’ve just been trying to get our guys to focus on what they have control over, which is themselves,” said Green, who has led Duke to the NCAA Championship in seven of his 11 seasons at the helm. “They have been doing a good job of that at the end of the spring. They were connecting well with the idea of taking care of where your feet are and we’ve been shooting some pretty god scores that way starting with the Clemson event.”

Senior Alex Smalley leads the lineup, followed by junior Chandler Eaton, sophomore Adrien Pendaries, sophomore Evan Katz and junior Steven DiLisio. All five Blue Devils finished in the top 30 at the Athens Regional, as Duke joined Texas (Austin Regional) as the only teams to have each player finish in a regional’s top 30 this season.

Smalley and Eaton each shot one-under 212 last week and were tied for seventh. Katz and DiLsio each recorded their best career postseason finishes and were tied for 10th at one-over par 214, while Pendaries was tied for 28th in six-over 219.

The NCAA Championship format has each of the 30 teams playing 54 holes of stroke play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the field is cut to the low 15 teams for Monday’s final round of stroke play. The NCAA’s individual champion is also crowned on Monday.

Following Monday, the low eight teams advance to match play with quarterfinals and semifinals on Tuesday, May 28. The NCAA Championship match is set for the following day.

Duke is coming off the program’s best NCAA Championship finish in 2018, placing second in stroke play, then beating Texas in the Match Play quarterfinals before falling to Alabama in the semifinals. The low four Blue Devils return from 2018 in Eaton, Smalley, Pendaries and Katz.

“It’s cool to look back on last year and draw from that experience to hopefully do better this year,” said Pendaries, who finished tied for 32nd in stroke play and won his quarterfinal match at last year’s NCAA Championship. “We’re coming in with plenty of confidence. Certainly with the match play experience we got last year and at East Lake this fall, will help us perform better if we can get to match play this year.”

Reaching the NCAA Championship for three consecutive years has happened just twice previously at Duke (1939, 1940, 1941 and 2005, 2006, 2007).

For Friday’s first round, Duke is off the 10th tee beginning at 2:05 p.m. ET (1:05 CT) with Georgia Tech and USC. Saturday’s second round puts Duke, GT and USC off the first tee at 8:45 a.m. ET (7:45 CT).

With Duke’s women’s team competing in the NCAA Championship this week at the Blessings, the Blue Devils are one of just nine programs to have both men and women advance to the championship, joining Arizona State, Auburn, Illinois, USC, Stanford, Texas, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

“It really is an advantage to have our women’s team – as good as they are – to have them be at the golf course before we get there,” said Green. “We might get a scouring report from our coaches, but our men and women see each other play all the time. Our women’s team knows high-level championship golf and to see what they did in their second round was impressive.”

Golfstat will provide live scoring throughout the championship.

NCAA Championship seeds:
No. 1 Oklahoma State
No. 2 Arizona State
No. 3 Wake Forest
No. 4 Vanderbilt
No. 5 Texas
No. 6 Oklahoma
No. 7 Georgia Tech
No. 8 Duke
No. 9 USC
No. 10 Stanford
No. 11 Auburn
No. 12 California
No. 13 Clemson
No. 14 Georgia
No. 15 BYU
No. 16 South Carolina
No. 17 LSU
No. 18 Texas A&M
No. 19 North Florida
No. 20 Pepperdine
No. 21 Louisville
No. 22 Liberty
No. 23 Baylor
No. 24 Illinois
No. 25 North Carolina
No. 26 TCU
No. 27 UNLV
No. 28 Ohio State
No. 29 Georgia Southern
No. 30 SMU