BALL GROUND, Ga. – Duke continued its climb through the field at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship with a 3-1-1 semifinal win against Southern Cal on Monday at Hawks Ridge Golf Club. The Blue Devils, 12-2-1 overall in the match play event, next face fourth-seeded Illinois on Tuesday in the championship match of the event.
“Every single one of our guys was focused and determined over the last three rounds,” said coach Jamie Green. “They are in a great mind-set. The worst thing you can do in this format is playing a hole to not lose. Our guys are playing to win and to win by a lot.”
Senior Wes Roach posted a 4 and 3 win against Steve Lim to move to 2-1 at the match play event. He opened with par wins on No. 1 and No. 2 before moving to 3-up following a birdie on the par 5 fourth hole. After dropping one hole with a bogey on the par 3 fifth, Roach birdied his second par 5 of the day to regain a three-hole advantage. Lim battled back to 1 down with wins on No. 8 and No. 11 before Roach responded. The Knoxville, Tenn., native won No. 12 with a par and added birdies on No. 13 and No. 15 to close out the match. Roach played the 15 holes at one-under on Monday with birdies on all three of the par 5s he faced.
Julian Suri never trailed in his match with Martin Trainer en route to a 3 and 2 victory. The St. Augustine, Fla., native grabbed a 2-up lead four holes into the match with wins on Nos. 5 and 6. Trainer birdied the par 3 12th hole to cut the deficit in half, but Suri countered with birdies on the par 4 15th and 17th holes to move to dormie (3-up with three holes to play). Both players birdied the par 5 18th hole to give Suri his third consecutive match play victory.
Sophomore Brinson Paolini registered a 2-up win in a see-saw match with ranked T.J. Vogel. Paolini fell to 2-down through six holes of play before settling in. Paolini carded par wins on No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 to grab a 1-up advantage at the turn. Vogel squared the match with a birdie on the par 3 12th hole and the two players matched each other shot for shot on Nos. 13 and 14. Paolini collected his first birdie of the round on the par 4 15th hole to go one-up and closed out Vogel and USC with a birdie on the par 5 18th hole. He finished the round with 15 pars, two birdies and one bogey.
Austin Cody never led on Monday but battled throughout the day to halve his match with Sam Smith. The freshman from South Carolina was 2-down with six holes remaining. He earned wins on Nos. 16 and 18 to get back to all-square. Smith birdied the par 4 first hole to go 1-up with two to play, but Cody countered with a par on No. 3 to win the hole and halve the match.
Sophomore Tim Gornik suffered a hard fought 1-up defeat to Jeffrey Kang. Neither player ever led by more than one hole in the back-and-forth match. Gornik held a 1-up lead after two holes but found himself 1-down heading into hole No. 14. He carded back-to-back birdies on the par 4 14th and 15th holes to regain the lead but Kang countered with wins on No. 16 and No. 17. Both players parred No. 18 and No. 1 as USC recorded its lone win of the day.
“During match play in particular there’s a heightened challenge in dealing with your emotions,” Green said. “It’s so important to be resilient and to have a short memory. All of our guys have done a fabulous job of forging ahead, keeping their blinders on and keeping the pedal down.”
“It’s too tough to single out any one player with praise. They’re all doing whatever happens to be necessary to be successful and they’re all having a blast doing it.”