Duke goes on a West Coast odyssey over spring break

Brinson Paolini

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It has been one heck of a spring break trip for the Duke golf team.

On March 6, six players -- Brinson Paolini, Mads Soegaard, Adam Sumrall, Julian Suri Michael Ricaute and Tim Gornik -- and head coach Jamie Green traveled west for the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas.

The team started preparations for the Southern Highlands tournament with a practice round. The next day, the three-day tournament started. The team finished T-10 at 29-over 893. Paolini was the low team member with rounds of 75-74-70 to finish T-16.

“It was good. Our first event of spring was in Jacksonville, and we played well there, but it was good to get a full tournament under our belt because that was shortened due to weather,” Paolini said. “ It is probably one of the best fields in college golf, and we played well. But we also identified what we needed to work on moving forward.”

While more than half the team was out west, three other players (Austin Cody, Motin Yeung and Turner Southey-Gordon) were playing in the Bash by the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as individuals. All three players finished in T-18 or better.

Continuing out west, the team traveled down to the Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., area to play and practice.

On Monday, the team practiced at The Raven Golf Club at South Mountain. Then it was onto Arizona State University Karsten Golf Course on Tuesday.

“So what we did was we’d workout first thing in the morning, then practice, eat lunch and then play in the afternoon,” Paolini said.

The team took in a NHL hockey game that night at Jobing.com Arena, where the Phoenix Coyotes took on the defending Stanley Cup champions, Los Angeles Kings. Fellow Slovenia countrymen Gornik and Kings centerman Anze Kopitar met up after the game for a quick chat.

With two days left on their trip, the men took in Greyhawk Golf Club for a practice session before a dual match with Grand Canyon.

The last day of its eight-day excursion, Duke took in Ping headquarters, which is located in Phoenix. Players got a tour of the manufacturing and fitting center and some even played with the fitting machine.

“I’m a Ping guy, so it was great,” Paolini said. “I had them check out my clubs and made sure everything was squared away. You don’t see many Americans manufacturers anymore so it was just really cool.”

Getting ready for a possible run at the NCAA Championships, Duke played matches with Grand Canyon. It was a 3-3 draw with Paolini, Sumrall and Ricaute winning their matches.

The team took the red-eye back to Durham on Thursday night, and they got back Friday afternoon.

“Not that I can remember, we sometimes made a quick trip before regionals,” Paolini said of going on an extended spring break trip. “It was a good trip from a bonding standpoint. It couldn’t have been better. It was just brought us a lot closer. There are four seniors on the team, and we all traveled so it was good just to be with the younger guys.”

The Blue Devils’ next tournament is at The Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Charleston, S.C.

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