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April 17, 2005

NEW LONDON, N.C. – Ryan Blaum posted his second sub-70 round of the tournament Sunday, a five-under-par 67 that carried the 11th-ranked Blue Devils to their first Atlantic Coast Conference men’s golf championship since 1966.

Blaum went out in 34 strokes and played the back in 33, while the Blue Devils collectively shot six-under-par 282 to capture their fifth conference title in men’s golf. Duke also became the first team other than Tech or Clemson to claim the title since 1996, and the first other than Tech, Clemson or North Carolina to do so since 1989. The Yellow Jackets were runners-up for the sixth time.

After beginning the day tied for first place, Tech shot two-under-par on the front nine while the Blue Devils opened a three-shot cushion behind Blaum and Michael Schachner, who went out in four-under-par and finished with a 70. Duke duplicated that performance on the back while the Yellow Jackets played even-par golf and could not make up any ground.

Duke finished the tournament at 865, one over par, four shots ahead of Tech (869), which posted its best score of the weekend Sunday at two-under 286. NC State was third at 880, Clemson fourth at 883 and Virginia fifth at 884. Wake Forest (889), Florida State (898), North Carolina (906), Maryland (915) and Virginia Tech (922) rounded out the field.

Blaum’s performance on the 7,102-yard, par 72 Old North State Club also gave him medalist honors by eight shots over Georgia Tech’s Chan Song. Blaum finished with a 10-under-par total of 206, while Song, a senior from Orlando, Fla., shot four-under-par 68 Sunday and finished at two-under-par 214. Song played the front nine in one-under, and came home three shots under par.

“It’s tough when you have one guy get away from the field like that,” said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “We may have four guys in the top 10. He wins by eight, and it’s hard to make that up. You can’t play defense. Our guys played okay, but he just made too many birdies and got away from us.”

Tech actually placed four players among the top 12 indivuduals. Song’s second-place finish was his career best in any tournament, while sophomore Roberto Castro (74 Sunday) tied for fourth at one-over 217. Michael Barbosa shot 71 Sunday and tied for 10th along with Nicholas Thompson (73 Sunday) at 220.

“I just kind of hung around,” said Song. “I seemed to putt better as the tournament went along. I hit my irons real well, and I putted real well the last nine holes today.

“I tried to go out there and do the best that I could for the team. The last nine holes, I just wanted to make one more shot, one more putt for the team. That’s all I thought about.”

Tech’s highest counting scores for the weekend were 74, 75 and 75, but the Yellow Jackets could post only three sub-par rounds during the tournament, two of those coming Sunday.

“I don’t think there was one real defining moment other than one kid just really golfed his ball,” said Heppler.

Tech is off until it plays in one of the three NCAA regional qualifying tournaments the weekend of May 19-21. The fields for those events will be announced May 6.


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