The Valparaiso University men’s golf team utilized a glowing front nine in Monday’s afternoon round to erase an early deficit and climb into second place in a 15-team field through 36 holes at the Crusader Collegiate. Valpo went three under as a team for the day in the fourth annual event hosted at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton.
How It Happened
- Sophomore Charlie Toman (Chardon, Ohio / Notre Dame-Catholic Latin) had his best day of the season, finishing the first 36 holes four strokes under par at 140. He carded a 71(-1) in the opening round before following with a 69(-3) in Round 2. Toman is in second place in the 89-player field, four strokes behind Wright State’s Mikkel Mathieson in the chase for medalist honors.
- Toman isn’t the only Valpo player eying a Top 5 finish as sophomore Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead) finished Day 1 at 142 (-2), which placed him tied for fifth. He stroked an even par of 72 in the morning round before going two under in Round 2.
- Freshman Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) went under par again in the opening round of the tournament with a 71, but completed the day at 147 (+3), which put him at t-21.
- Sophomore Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) at 148 and junior Jack Juskow (Greenville, S.C. / Hamilton Southeastern) at 150 rounded out the quintet comprising Valpo’s lineup for the event.
- One of the other storylines of the day from a Valpo standpoint was the turnaround of senior Jeremy Wu (Medford, Ore. / St. Mary’s). After placing 104th in the Gene Miranda Falcon Invite, he bounced back with a quality day to open the Crusader Collegiate. Golfing as an individual, Wu is tied for 21st at 147 and his Round 2 score of 71(-1) was 11 strokes better than his best round in the last event.
- Ross Lazar (Okemos, Mich. / Okemos) and Matthew McCarthy (O’Fallon, Ill. / Althoff Catholic) both finished the day at 155, while Brett Seward (Aurora, Ill. / Aurora Christian) is at 160. All nine Valpo players participated in this event with four golfing as individuals.
- Valpo posted a 282 in Round 2, six strokes under par as a team. That was the best second-round score of any of the 15 participating squads. The team is second through 36 holes at 573 (-3), chasing only Wright State (567, -9) in the standings. Valpo owns a six-shot lead over third-place Loyola.
Inside the Rounds
- The 282 in Round 2 tied for the second-best 18-hole round in program history, matching the first round of the Golfweek Program Challenge last year. The only round better was the opening round at Golfweek in 2014, when Valpo carded a 273.
- Valpo also matched the second-best 18-hole score in relation to par in program history at six under in Round 2, again tying with 2018 Golfweek Program Challenge Round 1 and behind only 2014 Golfweek Round 1 (-15).
- Toman’s 69 in Round 2 matched his career low set in the opening round of the Golfweek Program Challenge last season. Willis also equaled a personal best with his 18-hole score of 70, a PR previously set in Round 2 of last season’s MVC Championship.
- Wu’s 71 was the best round of his four-year collegiate career, eclipsing a 72 in the second round of the Titans Motown Intercollegiate on Oct. 16, 2017.
- Valpo enjoyed quality birdie production on Monday, leading the field with 39 birdies, 24 of which came in Round 2. On an individual basis, Willis had 12 birdies and Toman produced 10.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“We didn’t start the tournament well, struggling with the third and eighth holes and missing some short putts. The guys seemed to be pretty excited to play on our home course and the nerves might have been dialed a little higher at the start of the round. Caleb and Garrett had a terrific start for us and Drew and Jack had a better rhythm with some quality pars and birdies on the back nine. Charlie played steady for us the entire round.”
“We had 15 birdies in the first round and we started the second round really hot, with 13 birdies on the front nine. The proximity of our shots to the hole was excellent and the guys were rolling the birdie putts very well. The momentum really shifted for us in the second round and we worked our way back to leading the tournament after 27 holes. We added 11 birdies on the back nine, but we didn't play the 16th hole very well and couldn't quite capitalize on a couple of the Par 5s down the stretch. There is a lot of golf played on the 36-hole Monday rounds. For the guys to play their best and with great determination when the day got long was very impressive to our coaching staff.”
“It was fun to watch the entire team play today. It was especially fun to watch Garrett make 12 birdies and Charlie roll in 10. The two of them really hit a lot of good shots into the greens and made some terrific putts. To birdie five holes in a nine-hole stretch is something special.”
“Tomorrow we need to take advantage of the Par 5s much better than today. We left a lot of scoring opportunities out there on the Par 5s and we can make up some ground on those four holes. We need to continue playing smart and without consequences, focusing on our game plan and good course management. The golf course will be set-up more difficult tomorrow, but we are familiar with our home course and that will give us a competitive edge.”
The final round of the Crusader Collegiate will begin with tee times off the first and 10th holes starting at 7:30 a.m. CT on Tuesday at Sand Creek. Live scoring will be available via BirdieFire.