No. 10 Duke rallies to overcome four-shot deficit, win ACC title
NEW LONDON, N.C. -- No. 10 Duke posted a final round 4-under 284 Sunday in rain-soaked conditions at Old North State Club to overcome a four-shot deficit and capture the 2013 ACC championship. Junior Austin Cody recorded birdies on holes 13, 14 and 16 to lead the back nine surge that gave Duke's its first ACC title since 2005.
“The guys on our team loved the opportunity [Sunday],” head coach Jamie Green said. “In practice this is what you tell your players they’re working for. It was a lot of fun on the back nine out there. There were some birdies made and some nip and tuck, but when you got to that final hour, it was just a survival test.”
With a steady rain throughout the day turning into downpour conditions through the final three holes of play, Duke battled back from a late round three-stroke deficit to claim the tournament crown with a school-record 25-under 839. No. 15 Florida State, the 18 and 36 hole leader, finished tied for second with Virginia Tech at 22-under. Defending champion and No. 9 Georgia Tech finished fourth at 13-under followed by Clemson (859), Virginia (862), North Carolina (869), No. 25 Wake Forest (872), NC State (881), Maryland (883) and Boston College (896).
Duke and Florida State engaged in a back-and-forth battle for the league crown throughout the day with Virginia Tech climbing into the mix and Georgia Tech hanging around through the first 14 holes of the day. Cody's back-nine play with six pars and three birdies keyed the Blue Devils despite heavy rains and wind late in the round. Duke suffered a handful of bogeys in the downpour conditions, but made several key pars saves and avoided the big numbers that plagued Florida State and Georgia Tech down the stretch.
Anders Albertson of Georgia Tech claimed individual medalist honors with a 15-under 201 to finish five shots better than Mikey Moyers (Virginia Tech) and Chase Seiffert (Florida State). Duke senior Adam Sumrall placed fifth with an 8-under 208, while classmates Brinson Paolini and Julian Suri were tied for seventh at 5-under (211).
Sumrall and Cody paced the Blue Devils Sunday with 2-under 70s, while Paolini and freshman Mads Soegaard posted even-par 72s. Suri, playing in the final group of the day, posted a 2-over 74. He was two-under in the round after birdies on No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10, before dropping four strokes while playing in the worst weather conditions of the final round.
Sumrall carded four birdies, including three on the opening nine holes of play, en route to his three consecutive under-par round of the event. He finished the tournament with just three over-par holes, while posting a career-best 8-under 208. He now has three top-five finishes and nine rounds of under-par golf this season.
Cody opened the day with a bogey and made the turn at one-over before turning things around. After clawing back to one-under with birdies on No. 13 and No. 14, he sank a 40-foot putt on No. 16 and made a pair of pars putts from inside 10 feet to cap of the round. Cody concluded the ACC championship tied for 17th with a 1-under 215.
"It was a tough day the whole back nine," Cody said. "I knew it was going to play tough so I stayed patient and took what the course gave me. It is an awesome feeling with the seniors here because I know how bad they wanted to win an ACC championship. We all played great and it's a great feeling to know that all the hard work we put in has payed off."
Paolini recorded his third top-10 finish in the ACC championship at Old North State Club. He played steady golf throughout Sunday in recording his team-leading 17th round of even-par or better golf. With the even-par 72, Paolini also matched the Duke career record with 21 career even-par rounds.
"It is so special to be able to share this win with the other seniors," Paolini said. "We've grown really close over our four years and this is the perfect way for us to go out."
Soegaard got off to a terrific start in the final round with back-to-back birdies. Following a bogey on No. 3, he added birdies on No. 6 and No. 8 to make the turn at three-under. Soegaard dropped a stroke on No. 10 but recovered with six consecutive pars. He ended the day with back-to-back bogeys as the wind and rain picked up late in the afternoon. Soegaard wrapped up his first ACC championship with a one-under 215 to tie for 17th.
“I owe a lot to Rod Myers [former Duke coach] and his staff who built this program,” Green said. “O.D. Vincent was there a short time before I came and he recruited some of these players, especially the seniors. I was fortunate enough to walk in and have some good players. We built a little bit on that and I think we have a very deep team, where a lot of guys can go into the lineup and perform well.”
Conference Championship Central