Clutch performance

Strong second round propels men's golf team to victory at regional invitational

By Tate Baker | 10/2/13 5:04pm

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Chris Cunningham


Just a week ago, the fate of the Grand Valley State University men’s golf team was hanging in the
balance as it struggled for its third consecutive weekend to meet its potential.

After day one of the Midwest Regional Invitational, it seemed as if the Lakers were going in the same
direction, as they sat eight strokes back off the lead, heading for another lackluster performance, but
GVSU would rally on the second day to win the tournament.

“Playing 36 holes opposed to 18 set us back a little bit because we didn’t get a chance to shoot any
practice rounds,” junior Jack Rider said. “We knew how important this tournament was to the whole
outlook of our season, but even after our shaky first-round start, we didn’t panic.”

After posting a miserable first round of 85 ( 13), senior Joel Siegel knew his team’s placement in the
tournament heavily depended on his second-round performance. Responding to the call, Siegel
posted a second-round score of 73 ( 1), dramatically improving his and the team’s overall score.

“It’s always helpful to be familiar with the course, not to blame that on my first-round performance,
but it definitely affected it,” Siegel said. “I knew our entire team needed better second-round scores if
we were going to move up, and that’s really what I set out to do.”

Senior Chris Cunningham may have been more desperate to get back on track than anyone else this
weekend, and it showed. Cunningham carded an even first round of 72 and followed it up with a
second-round score of 70 (-2), which led him to his second career individual title as a Laker.

“It felt good to be finally hitting the ball well,” Cunningham said. “I think we all knew what was at
stake, and none of us played to lose. It was great to be able to gain this type of momentum heading
into the (GLIAC).”

Rider, who may be the most consistent Laker thus far, also finished in the top five as he carded a
second-round score of 71 (-1) to finish the tournament at even.

“I wasn’t really happy with my first round,” Rider said. “(I) felt like I let a couple of holes get away from
me. The second round provided a lot of good golf for me, which put not only myself, but our team, in
a pretty good position at the end.”

Eventually, the Lakers would outlast fellow GLIAC foes Malone University, University of Indianapolis
and Ferris State University and go on to win the tournament title with a total team score of 585.

“I think this team is too experienced to really be pressured in this type of situation,” Rider said. “We
knew we couldn’t afford to lose and that there was a lot riding on the line, but I think that pushed us
in the right direction.”

Up next, the Lakers will look to defend their two-time reigning GLIAC championship when they travel
across state to the Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Mich.

“The GLIAC is our biggest goal right now,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully we can ride this momentum
and make it three straight.”

tbaker@lanthorn.com

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