With the Valparaiso men's golf team splitting up into two squads for the CSU Cougar Classic, they were looking for all ten active team members to find success on the links, and that is exactly what happened. The Brown team and Gold team paced themselves to great finishes as Brown took home the tournament title, the first since the Bradley Invitational in April of 2013, and Gold finished in 3rd. Individually, freshman Zach Cutler (O'Fallon, Mo./Timberland), playing for the Gold squad, claimed medalist honors following a second-round 68.
Coach David Gring was proud of his team to say the least. “Today's tournament win was a complete team effort. We had all twelve guys on the team involved with this victory, and I'm really happy for the guys,” said Gring. “We came in to the final round with a four shot lead and the guys maintained that lead with a meritorious performance.”
As has happened in the previous two tournaments of the year, more records fell. The Brown team broke the 36-hole tournament low with a total score of 593, nine shots better than the previous record. The Gold team's tournament total of 596 is good for a tie for fourth in the same category. Relative to par records also fell as Brown broke the record with a score of +8, while Gold's +21 is good for third-best in school history.
While the Brown squad took top honors, it was Cutler – playing for the Gold team – who brought home the medalist trophy, while also breaking a couple of Crusader individual records. Cutler cracked the top-10 of best individual 18-hole efforts with a final round of 68 to end the tournament at 144. Cutler broke the program record when it comes to best 36-hole tournament by an individual by one shot, as well as breaking the all-time record concerning a 36-hole tournament relative to par by shooting even-par for the Classic.
Needless to say, Gring was impressed with this historic performance. “Zach's ball-striking has been exceptional over the past couple of weeks, and today it was quite impressive. Not only did he knock the ball close to the hole, but he made some essential putts. This is Zach's second competitive tournament of his freshman year, and to win the tournament as an individual speaks to his work ethic and his talent. We are very excited for him and his victory.”
For the Brown team, Nick Seitz (Xenia, Ohio/Carroll) paced the squad as he carded a final round of a 73, good for a 36-hole total of 145 and a share of second place. Joe Harris (Washington, Iowa/Washington) had the best round Tuesday for the Brown squad as he turned in a 72. Harris totaled 146 for the two days, tying him for fourth along with teammate Eric Winters (Elgin, Ill./Saint Edward) who also shot a 146 after turning in a 73 on the final day of action.
Rounding out Brown was Jared Magoline (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac [Marquette]), whose back-to-back rounds of 74 put him in ninth place with a 148, and Peter Webb (Madison, Wis./James Madison Memorial), who rebounded from day one to card a 73 and finish with a total of 152, good for a top-15 finish.
Michael Doherty (Lisle, Ill./Naperville North), Matt Ward (Plainfield, Ill./South), Michael Holevas (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward Central Catholic) and Ryan Heck (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls) rounded out the Gold team and all wrapped up their first play of the year. Doherty shot a 147 in his first action wearing a Crusader polo, finishing in eighth place. Ward placed tied for 18th by shooting a 155 over the two days. Holevas penciled in a 156, good for a top 25 finish. Rounding out the team effort was Heck, another Crusader who turned in his first career match and carded a respectable 167.
Altogether six Crusaders finished within the top ten of the record books concerning 36-hole individual totals, while seven placed within the top ten when it came to relative to par scores, and coach Gring spoke of his team's incredible depth. “The depth on our team was showcased with this tournament, with multiple players contributing to the scoring in both rounds,” continued Gring. “There were very few scores under par for the entire tournament, and the guys played very focused, patient golf, allowing us to have consistent scores at and around par.”
The Brown and Gold will take a week off before hitting the links again when they head to Akron, Ohio to take place in the Firestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club. Live stats and results will be available during play at valpoathletics.com.