For the first time in program history, the Valparaiso men’s golf team is headed to the NCAA Tournament after posting a team score of 294 on Sunday to beat Cleveland State by four strokes and win the Horizon League Championship at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
The Crusaders finished with three-round total of 884. Cleveland State was second with a total of 888.
“We had five tournaments this year that we were leading going into the final round,” Valparaiso head coach David Gring said. “This was one of the three we won and the most important.
Junior Thomas Wettstein (Neenah, Wis./Xavier) recorded a 2-under par round of 70 on Sunday to take medalist honors by four shots over Cleveland State’s Andrew Bailey. Wettstein finished with a three-round total of 214. This is the first time in his Crusader career he has won medalist honors.
"Thomas' ball-striking was exceptional, hitting a lot of fairways and greens in regulation," Gring said. "His medalist finish at this tournament is a wonderful achievement."
Wettstein made five birdies in his final round, including four on the back nine. He birdied all four par-5s and three of the last five holes, including back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
“We played the last nine holes in 4-under par,” Gring said. “We played very hard down the stretch, and the guys showed determination to close the round and tournament well.”
Junior Kyle Henning (Brookfield, Wis./East) made three birdies on his round, all coming on the back nine to shoot 75 and finish tied for fifth with a total of 223.
By finishing in the top-seven, both Wettstein and Henning made the all-tournament team.
Senior Austin Gaugert (Lake Geneva, Wis./Badger) finished tied for 12th with total of 226.
Fifth-year senior Brad Winters (Elgin, Ill./Saint Edward [Dayton]) fired a final round 76 to finish tied for 14th with a total of 228. He made two birdies on the back nine on Sunday.
Senior Andy Webb (Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence) made three birdies on the front nine and carded a round of 73 to finish in 29th place at 236.
“Our five seniors represent the first graduating class since the golf program was reinstated four years ago,” Gring said. “I’m proud of them for working so hard this entire year. The victory today is a team championship.”
Valparaiso will participate in one of the six NCAA Regional Championships beginning on Thursday, May 16. The Crusaders will learn which location they will be sent to when the pairings are released on Monday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m.