Junior Peter Webb (Madison, Wis./James Madison Memorial) sits in a tie atop the leaderboard as the Valparaiso University men’s golf team concluded the first half of the weather-shortened Hoosier Collegiate at Otter Creek on Saturday.
“The team was able to start pretty well and we played the first nine holes decent, despite the wind and cold temperatures,” said Crusader head coach David Gring. “We had some struggles midway through the back nine with some costly bogies that hurt our team score. When you get on the wrong side of the hole with these sloping greens, it is going to be costly.”
Webb, who has posted top-10 finishes in each of the Crusaders’ last two tournaments, tallied four birdies against just two bogies on Saturday to shoot an opening-round 70. The junior’s two-under total has him tied with IUPUI’s Rylan Porter atop the individual leaderboard, with a large group of seven golfers just one stroke back with one round to play.
“Pete drove the ball very well off of the tee and hit a lot of fairways, and that opened a lot of opportunities for greens in regulation,” said Gring. “His play was very steady for us today - nothing flashy but good looks at birdie and his short game was sharp when it needed to be. The greens are a challenge to read, but if he can get some more putts to drop tomorrow, it will be a special day.”
The rest of the Crusader squad struggled in the cool, windy conditions on Saturday. Sophomore Zach Cutler (O’Fallon, Mo./Timberland) posted Valpo’s second-best score with a 77, finishing the day in a tie for 46th position, while senior Matt Ward (Plainfield, Ill./South) and freshman Mitchell Wittmann (Kaukauna, Wis./Kaukauna) both shot rounds of 78. Senior Jared Magoline (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac [Marquette]) rounded out the Valpo squad with an opening-round 79.
“We were able to get off the tee fairly well today and put ourselves in good positions approaching the greens,” said Gring. “We need to improve our short and mid-irons to the green and give ourselves more opportunities to make birdies.”
As a team, the Crusaders posted a score of 303 through the opening 18 holes. Valpo sits just seven strokes outside of fifth place entering Sunday’s final round, which is slated to begin at 8 a.m. CT.