Men's preview: No. 21 Duke
In preparation for the upcoming college season, Golfweek is breaking down the rosters of each of its preseason top 30 teams.
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2011-2012 Golfweek rank: 21
Go-to-guy: Julian Suri
Season outlook: The Blue Devils fell just shy of a trip to the NCAA Championship last season, finishing sixth at the NCAA East Regional and missing out on a finals berth by three strokes.
“It was a major disappointment,” said head coach Jamie Green, who led Duke to NCAA Championship appearances in each of his previous three seasons. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were devastated, but they were extremely bummed out. They had pretty high sights.”
Those lofty expectations haven’t waned heading into this season. Seniors Julian Suri and Brinson Paolini and junior Austin Cody head a strong group of returnees. Suri posted a school-record 71.3 stroke average a year ago, while Paolini’s 72.6 was tied for second with the now-graduated Spencer Anderson, the only missing piece from last season. Senior Tim Gornik also returns after a strong summer that included advancing to the Round of 32 at the British Amateur. Freshmen Motin Yeung, a member of the Hong Kong national team this summer, and Demark native Mads Sogaard should also be in the mix.
“We’re going to be pretty deep,” Green said.
One storyline to keep an eye on this fall is whether Suri’s right hand has healed after surgery. Suri started having pain in his wrist last spring and was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his hand after the season.
“He was planning on playing a lot of summer golf,” Green said. “He had to drop everything to let it heal.”
Though he’s cleared to play, Suri is just starting to test his hand. Green said it’s still sore, but that Suri is at full strength. If Suri holds up, the Devils are a good bet to make it to NCAAs and put last year's heartache behind them
“He’s energetic, athletic and a terrific force on the course,” Green said of Suri. “He’s had to wait it out, but I know he’s excited to come back.”