DALLAS, TEXAS - The Duke men's golf team matched a tournament low with an 11-under 273 on Tuesday in the final round of the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate to finish second overall with a 21-under 831. Junior Julian Suri fired a career-best six-under 65, while sophomore Austin Cody posted a four-under 67 at the Royal Oaks Country Club.
The Blue Devils final round charge came up one stroke shy as Texas A&M took home the tournament championship for the third time in the last four years with a 22-under 830. Duke finished in second at 21-under, matching the third-lowest 54-hole score (in relation to par) in school history. The Blue Devils 11-under 273 on Tuesday is tied for the fifth-best round (in relation to par) in program history.
"Our guys all pride themselves on playing that last round as well as they possibly can," said head coach Jamie Green. "Obviously, you would like the end the fall season with a win, but to put up that kind of number today and end the tournament at 21-under is certainly something to build off and gain some confidence from."
Oklahoma finished third at seven-under (845) with Augusta State (-4, 848) and New Mexico (E, 852) rounding out the top 5. Host Baylor (+1, 853) placed sixth and was followed by Houston (+10, 862), Lamar (+10, 862), Iowa (+11, 863), Tulsa (+11, 863), Notre Dame (+13, 865), SMU (+17, 869), Missouri (+21, 873) and Army (+66, 918).
MJ Daffue (Lamar) claimed low medalist honors, while playing as an individual, with an 11-under 202. Senior Spencer Anderson recorded his third straight under-par round (-2, 69) to finish tied for second with an eight-under 205. Suri collected his third top 10 showing of the fall with a six-under 207 (sixth), while Cody matched his career best with a tie for seventh at five-under (208).
"Spencer obviously had a great tournament," said Green. "From a ball striking perspective it maybe wasn't his best performance but it was the best that I have ever seen from him from a mental standpoint. He made some birdies and pars from amazing places and his short game was phenomenal."
Suri played bogey-free golf in the final round en route to a six-under 65. He opened with a birdie on No. 1 and added birdies on No. 4 and No. 7 to get to three-under at the turn. The St. Augustine, Fla., native picked up birdies on No. 10, No. 15 and No. 17 to match the 12th-best round (in relation to par) in Duke history. Suri played the par 4s at Royal Oaks CC at an impressive nine-under for the tournament en route to his 10th career top 10 finish.
Suri was tied for third in the tournament with 15 birdies and played the final 51 holes of the tournament at 10-under. He suffered a quad-bogey on his third hole of the tournament before battling back to post a career-best 207.
"I told myself that there's still 50+ holes left and that I can make birdie on any and every hole out here, so I did my best to brush it off and not let the one hole I played sloppily affect the way I played the rest of the tournament," said Suri. "I felt I did a pretty good job of that yesterday for the whole day and today the mindset was to go and try to birdie every hole. I obviously didn't do that but I gave myself a bunch of chances and was able to convert on a good number of them."
Cody book ended birdies on No. 1 and No. 9 around a pair of bogeys in the middle of the front nine to make the turn at even-par on Tuesday. He caught fire on the back nine with birdies on No. 10 (par 4), No. 11 (par 4) and No. 15 (par 4) to move to three-under. Cody closed out the tournament with a birdie on No. 18 for a four-under 67 and the low round and low tournament of his career. Cody's tie for seventh finish gives him three top 10 showings in his career.
"Austin caught a little bit of fire at the turn and it was fun to watch that," added Green. "He hit a beautiful three-wood into the green on No. 18 and had a two-putt for birdie. He battled to the last moment and put everything into today's round."
Anderson continued his steady play for the Blue Devils with a two-under 69 for his sixth under-par round of the fall. The Pacific Palisades, Calif., native opened the final round with nine straight pars before moving into red figures with birdies on No. 10 and No. 10. He tacked on a birdie on the par 5 14th hole before suffering his lone bogey on the day on the next hole. Anderson recovered to finish with three straight pars and collect his second career top 5 finish. He was tied for fifth in the tournament with 14 birdies, while playing the par 4s at five-under and the par 5s at four-under.
"I hit the ball poorly all week but I was scrambling well, my short game was good and I made a lot of putts," said Anderson. "It was a stressful brand of golf because I wasn't hitting a lot of fairways or greens but mentally I was able to hang in there and tough it out. The confidence gained from being in this tournament and having a chance to win will be great for me."
Junior Brinson Paolini posted a one-over 72 on Tuesday to finish tied for 13th with a two-under 211. The Virginia Beach, Va., native now has 15 career top 20 finishes. Paolini got off to a slow start in the final round with bogeys on No. 3 and No. 4. He recovered with birdies on No. 5, No. 7, No. 9 and No. 10 to move all the way to two-under in the round. Paolini ran into trouble with bogeys on No. 13, No. 15 and No. 16 before recovering to par out.
Yaroslav Merkulov, a sophomore from Penfield, N.Y., parred his first 11 holes of the third round before suffering four bogeys over a six holes stretch. He closed out with a birdie on the par 5 18th hole for a three-over 74. Merkulov finish tied for 63rd with an 11-over 224.
Freshman Turner Southey-Gordon, playing as an individual, finished tied for 56th with a nine-over 222 after posting a four-over 75 on Tuesday.
The second place finish at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate wraps up Duke's fall season. The Blue Devils return to action Feb. 15-17 in Kahuku, O'ahu, Hawaii at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate.
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