DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke men's golf team, ranked 21st in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches' Poll, is set to defend their title as they host the third annual Rod Myers Invitational this weekend at the Duke University Golf Club. The 54-hole event is slated to begin on Saturday with eleven teams playing 36 holes before returning to the course on Sunday for the final round.
This weekend's tournament is named in honor of Rod Myers, who passed away on March 30, 2007 after a battle with an acute form of leukemia. Myers was a 34-year mentor of the Duke men's golf program and one of the mainstays of the Duke University athletic department. Very well respected across the golf community, Myers guided Duke to 30 tournament victories, the 2005 ACC Championship and seven NCAA Championship appearances. In 2005, he was selected as the ACC Coach of the Year and Golfweek's National Coach of the Year after leading Duke to its first ACC Championship since 1966 and an eighth-place tie at the NCAA Championships.
While at the helm of the Duke men's golf team, Myers coached 16 All-Americas, nine Academic All-Americas, 24 All-ACC selections and three ACC individual champions. In 2007, the university named the golf training center after him and an endowed athletic scholarship was created in his honor.
"One of the special parts for us is not just naming the tournament after him, but doing things in as many ways that Rod would be proud of," said head Coach Jamie Green. "One example of that is having Nancy Myers here, and being able to have some family members of hers come on campus and support the team. She is out there every year, and she is out there every practice round getting to know the new coaches and remembering the friends that Rod got to know well on other teams going back a number of years."
The 2012-2013 Blue Devils kicked off its fall season with a victory at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate tournament in Chapel Hill, N.C. led by senior Brinson Paolini who fired a final round 68 to help the Blue Devils close the 54-hole event with an eight-under 856. Freshman Mads Soegaard competed in the tournament as an individual, and was the low Blue Devil in the tournament finishing tied for fourth overall. Most recently, Duke is coming off a fourth-place showing at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational Sept. 30-Oct. 2, in which Paolini and senior Julian Suri were both top-ten finishers earning second place and seventh place respectively.
Paolini, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., is a two-time PING All-East Region and All-ACC Academic team selection and ranks second at Duke with a 72.27 career stroke average. He enters the Rod Myers Invitational with a pair of top 10 finishes and a team-low 71.0 stroke average. Suri, a 2012 honorable mention All-America, has also finished both tournaments this fall in the top 10 and boasts a 71.7 stroke average.
Senior Tim Gornik and freshman Motin Yeung will be returning to the team after competing in the World Team Amateur Championship in Antalya, Turkey Oct. 4-7. Gornik, a native of Slovenia, finished 19th in the 54 hole event after firing a four-under par, 210, while Yeung, playing for the Hong Kong team, finished the three-day event with a seven-over par, 222, to finish in a tie for 90th as an individual. Yeung recorded a pair of under-par rounds and finished tied for sixth, while Gornik enters the weekend with a 75.0 stroke average.
Duke is joined in the 2012 Rod Myers Invitational field by Baylor, Charlotte, Eastern Carolina, Iowa, Liberty, Northwestern and Pacific as well as ACC opponents North Carolina and North Carolina St. Although Duke is the only ranked team in the tournament, Liberty, Iowa and Eastern Carolina finished in the top-30 in the 2012 NCAA National Championship in 10th, 22th and 26th respectively.
"We have a strong field," commented Green. "We are excited to have a few teams back who hadn't been here in a while, that had been here when Coach Myers was running the Iron Duke Classic. Northwestern is back, Eastern Carolina is going to be here, Liberty is a new one, and I think that is a good example, a lot of people are not familiar with how strong a team like Liberty University is up in Virginia, but they finished in the top-ten in the nation last year."
Follow the Duke men's golf team on Twitter @Duke_MGolf.
The Duke University Golf Club, which served as the host of the 1962 and 2001 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships, will play as a 7,154-yard, par 72 for the 2012 Rod Myers Invitational. Construction of the course was planned to begin prior to World War II, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 put the plans on hold. After the war, the present site of 300 acres was selected. The property was carefully chosen for the unique elevation changes of its mildly rolling terrain. In 1955, Duke sought out Robert Trent Jones, whose golf course architecture was widely respected.
Finally, on September 26, 1957, Duke University Golf Club opened to the public. The Duke course was immediately labeled one of the top university golf facilities in the nation. The accolades were great enough to attract the 1962 NCAA Golf Championships. Ironically, there was a soon-to-be-famous golf course architect playing in that NCAA field from Yale University. His name was Rees Jones, eldest son of the Duke golf course designer.
In 1988, university officials recognized that the golf course needed restoration. While no one denied the magnificent routing of its holes, length needed to be increased to account for the advancement of modern golf. Rees Jones, then a master architect in his own right, was the only choice for this redesign. Final major construction began in June, 1993 and was completed in April, 1994. It would be difficult to describe the loving care that Rees Jones put into the design of each and every feature of the course. Throughout the redesign, he scrutinized every shot possibility, observed and considered every angle to insure that each nuance of the course would be subtle and perfectly placed.
Duke Home Tournament History
For the past 40 years, Duke University has hosted an intercollegiate men's golf tournament featuring some of the most talented teams and players in the country. The Blue Devils have won a home event at the Duke University Golf Club 10 times (1978, 1979, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011).
In 2010, Duke renamed its home tournament after long-time coaching legend Rod Myers. In 2011, the Blue Devils won the tournament earning their 10th overall victory in a home event at the Duke University Golf Club. Baylor finished second with a six-over 870 and was followed by Charlotte (+8, 872), Iowa (+19, 883) and Tulsa (+22, 886). Michigan was in sixth place with an 899 (+35) with Tennessee (+37, 901), East Tennessee State (+44, 908), Coastal Carolina (+45, 909), North Carolina (+45, 909) and Georgia Southern (+55, 919) rounding out the leaderboard. Julian Suri posted rounds of 70-73-68 for a five-under 211 to secure his first career collegiate victory and Duke's first medalist honors at a home tournament since John Karcher won the 1988 John Ryan Memorial.
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