Evan Katz (Photo by Clyde Click)
When the rain and wind moved into Alpharetta, Ga., on Saturday, Duke went to work. The Blue Devils separated themselves at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate in challenging weather, and ultimately, they built enough of a cushion that no other team could overtake them in Sunday's final round.
Duke had the low round of the day in the second round, even though that meant 3-over 291. Duke overtook first-round leader Pepperdine and never looked back. With a closing round of 1-under 287, Duke reached 2 under for the weekend and logged a two-shot win.
As the summer wore on, several signs pointed to a strong fall on the horizon for Duke. Senior Chandler Eaton, who calls Alpharetta home, played the weekend at the U.S. Open. He was one of five upperclassmen in the Blue Devil lineup this week. Junior Evan Katz was at the forefront, though, with three rounds of par or better. That was good for a sixth-place finish at 3 under, the lowest among the Blue Devils.
"This is a win to be extremely proud of," said Katz. "Not only did we beat a very strong field, but most importantly we won the battle against ourselves. We were tough and resilient from start to finish, with everybody making huge contributions to the win. We were able to stay tough down a difficult finishing stretch and make some big putts when we needed them most, which ended up making the difference."
The Golf Club of Georgia event marks Duke’s first team title of the fall. The Blue Devils were second at their own Rod Myers Invitational and seventh at the Nike Collegiate, their other two stroke-play starts so far this season. Duke has won at least one event in each of the past six seasons.
Duke entered the week ranked No. 7 in the Golfweek
/Sagarin College Rankings. Four other top-10 schools were in the field, including top-ranked Georgia Tech, which finished 10th despite being at home.
"There were a lot of good teams out here – they're all highly ranked and it's always a terrific field that comes here," said head coach Jamie Green. "That's a testament to the type of tournament Georgia Tech runs and a great golf course. I was pleased and proud of our guys. It was something that has been building for us, so it was nice for our guys to see the reward and be able to take the trophy home."
After taking the first-round lead with a 12-under 276, Pepperdine could not produce another stunningly low round and finished second at even par. Texas A&M was another shot behind that, followed by Wake Forest at 4 over.
In the individual race, UCLA’s Eddy Lai and Texas A&M’s William Paysse tied for medalist honors at 7 over.
Quotes from Duke Athletics used in this report
ABOUT THE Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate
The United States Collegiate Championship,
hosted by Georgia Tech, annually brings 15 of
the nation's top college teams to The Golf Club
of Georgia for a three-day, 54-hole
that has been called "the Masters of college
golf.” Started in 2006, the USCC offers PGA
Tour-type, championship conditions for the
nation's finest college players, including a
personal caddie for all three rounds. Long
are required and galleries are able to walk in
fairways behind the players, similar to the
Walker Cup. The USCC crowns a Team
and Individual Champion and honors them on
perpetual mahogany, gold and crystal USCC
Trophy, which sits in The Golf Club of Georgia
View Complete Tournament Information