GVSU falls 2 strokes shy at NCAA Regional #4
Golfing in Michigan at this time of year is made difficult thanks to Mother Nature. With just two tournaments remaining before the postseason begins, the Grand Valley State University men’s golf team has limited opportunities to prepare.
After a tough opening round, GVSU battled through the rainy and windy final round on Monday to finish second at the NCAA Regional No. 4 at the Purgatory Golf Course in Noblesville, Ind. Wayne State University won the team portion of the event.
“Today was one of our better rounds of the spring,” senior Chris Cunningham said. “We were able to put together a good team round today. Staying consistent with our scores is something we can work on.”
On day one of the tournament, the Lakers were in 14th place out of the 30 teams participating, but they remained just 10 shots behind the leader.
Redshirt junior Jack Rider led the GVSU squad with a team-best one-over par 73, which was good enough for ninth place. Cunningham, who was tied for 21st with a score of 74, was one stroke behind.
“We actually had a full week of practice this week, and we were able to be out each day and practice for an extended period of time,” Rider said. “I think that contributed to better scoring this week.”
Sophomores Chris Beltzer and Tyler Polulak finished with scores of 78 and 79 respectively after the first round. Sophomore Austin Eccleton capped off the Lakers’ scores with an 80 ( 8).
Monday’s round was made difficult because of rain, wind and cold temperatures. However, GVSU recorded the best score of the day by finishing eight strokes ahead of every other team with a day-two score of 294 ( 6).
“It was a very miserable day to play golf today,” coach Don Underwood said. “It was a pretty tough day, but we still made a pretty good jump.”
The Lakers ultimately fell just short of winning the event, as they dropped two strokes behind WSU with a team score of 598 ( 22) over the course of the two days.
Cunningham and Rider ended the tournament tied for fourth place individually and were named to the all-tournament team.
Cunningham shot a one-over 73, which was the third-best score on Monday. Rider scored a 74 ( 2) and was one of four players to make an eagle at the tournament.
“One of the things they’ve been working on has been controlling the trajectory of the golf ball,” Underwood said of the duo. “They both worked hard and kept plugging along and didn’t let the conditions frustrate them.”
Beltzer improved on the second day by carding a 73 to end up tied for 18th place individually with a score of 151 ( 7).
Eccleton was also able to overcome the weather to improve upon his first-round score and finish with a 74. His final score of 154 ( 10) left him in a tie for 43rd out of the 151 golfers participating in the tournament.
Polulak wrapped up GVSU’s team scores with a total of 156 ( 12) and finished tied for 67th.
Up next for the Lakers is the GLIAC South Spring Invitational at the Winding Hollow Golf Course in New Albany, Ohio, which will take place on April 19 and 20.
The invitational will mark the team’s last event before the NCAA Super Regionals begin on May 5.