NEW LONDON — Duke’s men’s golf team spent two days and most of a third waiting for the right opportunity.
Florida State handed it to them Sunday, and the Blue Devils capitalized to win their first team title in eight years at the ACC championships.
Duke overcame heavy showers to finish the three-day tournament at the Old North State Club at 25-under-par 839, three strokes ahead of Florida State and Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech, which had won the past four ACC titles, was fourth.
“It was a lot of fun on that back nine (holes),” said Blue Devils head coach Jamie Green, who coached at Charlotte for 5 1/2 years before taking over at Duke in 2009.
“There were some birdies made, and there was some nip-and-tuck going on. Watching the leaderboard, things were bouncing around a little bit. But when we got to that last hour, it was just a survival-fest.”
Georgia Tech’s Anders Albertson posted a tournament record to win the ACC individual crown by five shots over Virginia Tech’s Mikey Moyers and Florida State’s Chase Seiffert.
Albertson, a sophomore, finished with a three-day total of 15-under 201, passing the record of 202 set by Wake Forest grad and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson in 2008.
But the story of Sunday’s final round was the playing conditions – after two days of near-perfect weather, temperatures dropped and the showers came, lightly at first, but intensifying as the day wore on.
“My hands were so pruny that I couldn’t feel the club,” Duke senior Brinson Paolini said. “You have no sense of where the club head is, no feel for it at all. So we were just trying to keep our heads down and make good decisions.”
The Blue Devils managed to stick close to Florida State in Sunday’s final round, tying the score at times, even leading by a stroke at others. But it wasn’t until the two teams came to the final five holes that Duke caught a break.
The Seminoles held a two-shot lead when Doug Letson – the first of Florida State’s five players – needed 10 strokes to complete the par-5 No. 18. In that instant, the Blue Devils went from two down to a three-stroke lead.
“I didn’t know about it,” Paolini said. “Pars were going to be a pretty good score the way the conditions were. Every putt and every shot mattered.”
Over the final five holes, Duke made two birdies and six bogeys, while Florida State had four birdies along with 10 bogeys (including the quintuple-bogey by Letson).
“The guys put the blinders on and finished well,” Green said. “It was a little crazy with the weather, but on that final hole our guys were coming up with some big putts for par.”