DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s golf team, ranked 21st in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches’ Poll, posted a two-under 574 to take a two shot lead after 36 holes on Saturday in the third annual Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club. The host Blue Devils were led by senior Julian Suri who fired rounds of 70 and 69 to grab a share of the lead heading into the final 18 holes on Sunday.
“Obviously I am pleased to be in the lead, I know our guys are as well,” said head coach Jamie Green. “I know they think they could have probably taken advantage of a couple more spots, but some really solid play. With the way the course was set up and the green speeds, there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities to shoot any super low scores, so for our guys to shoot a couple of under-par rounds was great to see.”
The Blue Devils fired back-to-back rounds of 287 to grab a two-stroke lead over Charlotte (E, 576). The 49ers held a two-stroke advantage over Duke after 18 holes of play. North Carolina sits in third place with a five-over 581 with Baylor and Iowa rounding out the top 5 at seven-over (583). Tulsa (+8, 584), Liberty (+11, 587), East Carolina (+14, 590), Northwestern (+17, 593), Pacific (+19, 595) and N.C. State (+29, 605) complete the standings.
Suri, a native of St. Augustine, Fla., is tied for the lead at five-under (139) with Braeden Cryderman of Charlotte and Clark Palmer of North Carolina. Duke’s Adam Sumrall, playing as an individual, is two shots back after firing rounds of 67 and 74. Bailey Patrick (North Carolina) is fourth at two-under (142) with Ryan O’Rear (Baylor), Filippo Zucchetti (Baylor), Ian Vandersee (Iowa) and Logan McCracken (Tulsa) tied for fifth at one-under (143).
Suri, a 2012 honorable mention All-America and the 2011 Rod Myers Invitational individual medalist, recorded eight birdies, including five in the second round, 25 pars and just three bogeys en route to his third and fourth under-par round of the season. He was particularly effective on the par 5s finishing the day a four-under on those holes, with birdies on three of the four par 5s on the afternoon round.
“Today’s rounds were kind of different. The first round I was scrambling a lot,” said Suri. “The last nine on the first round I was all over the place, and I was really getting up and down very well, and just staying patient. In the second round I starting hitting it better and giving myself chances. Some birdie putts started to fall which is always nice. The round could have been a little lower, but hopefully I get some more putts to drop tomorrow.”
Sumrall recorded 10 birdies on the day including six sub-par holes en route to a five-under 67 in the opening round of play. The South Bend, Ind., native closed particularly well on Saturday playing the final seven holes of each round at a combine six-under.
“The morning was really nice, the weather was great,” said Sumrall. “I made a couple of putts, and hit it pretty well. I think I hit 16 greens this morning so that was good. The afternoon was just kind of hanging on. I didn’t hit it well in the afternoon, and every other shot was all over the course but managed to hang in there and birdied the last few holes to put up a decent score in the afternoon.”
Of the top 15 players in the tournament, six are Blue Devils. In addition to Suri and Sumrall, freshman Mads Soegaard, senior Brinson Paolini, and junior Austin Cody are tied for 10th are even par on the day. Sophomore Turner Southey Gordon currently stands tied for 15th with a two-round total of 145, putting him at one-over entering the final round.
“I just want to commend Adam because I know from the summer when he had mono it has been a battle back to just regain strength and stamina,” said Green. “These 36-hole days can certainly do a number of anyone’s body. He recognized that he struggled a bit for the team in the last event at Olympia Fields, and he actually asked me if it would be ok to play in the tournament as an individual because he did not want to have any jeopardy in the team to not have the best play out there, so I think that said a lot about him. As a senior, it was great to see him be a leader and step aside, but it was really cool to see him post that low number in the beginning of the day. He is right there to contend for the tournament championship and I am happy for him.”
Paolini was steady throughout both rounds on Saturday using a couple of 20+ foot birdie putts in the opening round to post a one-under 71. Soegaard got off to a rocky start with four bogeys on the first six holes of the tournament before settling in to collect eight birdies with just four bogeys over the final 30 holes of play.
Cody, a North Charleston, S.C., native, rebounded from a four-over 76 in round one to collect five birdies en route to a four-under 68 in the afternoon. He collected three birdies and 11 pars of his final 14 holes of play on Saturday while playing as an individual.
Southey-Gordon finished his day with seven birdies, including five in the second round, to climb into the top 20 heading into the final round of play.
Senior Tim Gornik shot rounds of 72 and 77 putting him tied for 36th, while freshman Motin Yeung is tied for 39th after firing a pair of 75’s. Sophomore Michael Ricaurte (individual) is currently tied for 56th after shooting rounds of 76 and 81.
Duke opens final round play on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and will be paired with Charlotte and North Carolina. The tournament is open to the public with the first groups going out at 8am on No. 1 and 7:55 am on No. 10. Live scoring as well as complete tee times for the event are available at www.goduke.com/rmi and www.golfstat.com.
“Our guys expect to play well,” Green added. “There is not a hole location they haven’t seen, they have played the golf course in all sorts of weather and wind conditions and there is something to be said for home course advantage. It was good to see guys who struggled in one round, bounce back in the other. That shows some composure and some smart play, because there might have been some times out there when they were frustrated but they handled it well.”
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*** Duke’s Adam Sumrall and East Carolina’s Eric Brady each fired rounds of 67 (-5) to match the second lowest round in Rod Myers Invitational history
*** Northwestern’s Nicholas Losole carded the first ace in Rod Myers Invitational history on the par 3 eighth hole during the first round of play.
“I hadn’t had a hole in one until May this year at regionals, and then made one there and it was with a seven iron on the eighth hole,” said Losole. “And this one was with a seven iron, on the eighth hole, so that was pretty cool. It took me 21 years to get my first hole in one, and it took me five months to get my second.”
*** Suri, Cryderman and Palmer were the only three players to shoot under-par in both rounds on Saturday.
*** Paolini and Pacific’s Eric Sugimoto share the tournament lead with 28 pars.
*** Soegaard and Logan McCracken of Tulsa share the tournament lead in par 5 scoring at -5.
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