ATLANTA – A dominant fall schedule continued for No. 3 Duke on Monday in the stroke-play portion of the East Lake Cup. The Blue Devils shot 3-under 285 in the team’s first trip to East Lake to take the top seed going into match play.
Individual honors went to Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland – the defending U.S. Amateur champion – with a 4-under 68. The top-ranked Cowboys posted a 1-under 287 to earn the second seed in Tuesday and Wednesday’s match-play portion of the tournament.
Duke finished with three players in red numbers, and head coach Jamie Green was proud of his deep lineup.
“They showed us all what they’ve been doing all year,” Green said. “We’ve got pretty strong players from top to bottom and they were looking forward to the test today.”
Senior Alex Smalley and junior Chandler Eaton both posted 69. They were joined by sophomore Adrien Pendaries’ 71 as the only team with three players under par. Smalley had the opportunity to clinch the top seed in the final group on 18, but he was kept in the dark about the significance of his putt.
“I had no idea and then there was a big roar for the birdie and I kind of realized what that was for,” Smalley said. “We all believed we could do it, we showed we could do it. Everyone on the team is really good, even the guys at home.”
Duke already claimed back-to-back wins earlier in the fall in full-field events and climbed with a squad that retained four of five starters from its semifinal run in the NCAA Championship last season.
“It’s special for these guys because hopefully they can bounce with a little bit of confidence knowing they can play the golf course well,” Green said.
As for Hovland, he earned his first win of the fall and is currently ranked second in the country. “I just want to play as good as I can and today I happened to play pretty good, although I did leave some shots out there,” Hovland said.
“I’m pleased with Viktor’s play, nice of him to get the individual win,” Oklahoma State head coach Alan Bratton said. “It’s a treat to compete at East Lake; it’s a big boy golf course that definitely separates the field, identifies good players.”
No. 5 Alabama and No. 14 Auburn slot in the final two seeds heading into match play. The Crimson Tide posted a 5-over 293 with sophomore Davis Shore’s 2-under 70 leading the way. Junior Jovan Rebula finished at even par as the leader of the Tigers.
“It’s so cool, literally watched Tiger [Woods] highlights on YouTube to see what I needed,” Shore said. “It’s pretty neat because you can see what the pros are doing and what you’re doing and see how your game is measuring up.”
East Lake’s teeth showed at times, yielding a 73.80 scoring average – nearly 2 over par. “It’s tough. I mean, when the top 30 guys on the Tour come out here [for the Tour Championship] and 11 under wins, you know it’s hard,” Smalley said.
The match-0play portion of the tournament begins Tuesday with Duke (No. 1 seed) and Auburn (No. 4 seed) starting the session and then a rematch of the 2018 NCAA final with Oklahoma State (No. 2 seed) and Alabama (No. 3 seed) facing off.
“I may let this be on our players and our leader Davis Riley,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said on meeting OSU. “We’re just playing a golf match, we know they’re very good, but maybe less me, more them tonight.”
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Auburn
Adrien Pendaries vs. Trace Crowe
Shrish Dwivedi vs. Jacob Solomon
Evan Katz vs. Jovan Rebula
Chandler Eaton vs. Brandon Mancheno
Alex Smalley vs. Wells Padgett
No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 3 Alabama
Viktor Hovland vs. Frankie Capan
Matthew Wolff vs. Davis Shore
Hayden Wood vs. Prescott Butler
Austin Eckroat vs. Wilson Furr
Zach Bachou vs. Davis Riley
Follow along with all of our East Lake coverage at www.GolfChannel.com/EastLakeCup, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the handles @eastlakecup and @golfchannel and the hashtag #EastLakeCup. Live broadcast coverage of Day 2 of the East Lake Cup begins at 3 p.m. ET on Golf Channel and Golf Channel Digital, and is also available via the Golf Channel’s mobile app.