The Valparaiso University men’s golf team finds itself very much in team title contention entering the final day of the TVA Community CU Invitational, being hosted by North Alabama this week at the par-72, 7133-yard Turtle Point Yacht & Country Club in Killen, Ala. Junior Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) has an opportunity to close out a strong fall season with his best finish yet, as he holds the top spot in a tight battle for medalist honors in a 66-player field.
How It Happened
- Despite a strong opening-round performance of 291 (+3), the second-place Beacons found themselves facing a 10-stroke deficit on host North Alabama through the first 18 holes on Monday. However, Valpo made up seven strokes in Round 2 by carding a 290 to North Alabama’s 297, putting head coach Dave Gring’s team just three strokes behind the Lions for the top spot in an 11-team tournament. Valpo finished Day 1 of the two-day, 54-hole extravaganza at 581 (+5).
- VanArragon would love to close out a stellar fall by bringing some hardware back to Northwest Indiana with him. His 139 (-5) on Day 1 represented the best score in the field, but six competitors are within three strokes of VanArragon. He holds a two-stroke edge on Tate Chumley (UT Martin), Tom Roed Karlsen (North Alabama) and Braden Hoisington (Southern Illinois), who sit at t-2.
- VanArragon’s day started with a 69 (-3) in Round 1, which put him one stroke out of the tournament lead. He continued a steady day by going two strokes under par with a 70 (-2) in the afternoon to take over the top spot.
- Freshman Anthony Delisanti (Sanborn, N.Y. / Niagara Wheatfield) is hoping to close out a top-10 finish on Tuesday. He went 71-72 on Monday to complete the day at 143 (-1), putting him in eighth on the player leaderboard.
- Senior Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead) and freshman Sam Booth (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel) both bettered their Round-1 scores with a 74 in Round 2. Willis trimmed two strokes off his opening-round 76 and closed the day at 150, while Booth made a four-stroke improvement from his morning performance.
Inside the Rounds
- VanArragon’s Round-1 showing was his fifth sub-70 performance this fall.
- Delisanti is hoping to close out his second top-10 finish of the fall and first since the Valpo Fall Invitational.
- VanArragon is hoping for his fifth-straight top-5 finish and would like to finish in the top two for the fourth time in his last five events.
- Valpo will attempt to close out its 10th consecutive top-5 team finish on Tuesday, a streak that dates back to last season.
- The Beacons own the best par-5 scoring average in the field at 4.75. They are second in par-3 scoring at 3.23 and fourth on Par 4s at 4.18.
- Valpo leads the event with 120 pars and ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of birdie production with 23.
- VanArragon is the top individual in par-4 scoring average at 3.80 and ranks behind only his teammate Delisanti on par-5 holes with the rookie at 4.50 and the junior at 4.63.
- VanArragon’s 27 even-par holes are the second-most in the field, while VanArragon and Delisanti share the team lead with seven birdies apiece.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“The team showed a lot of consistency and poise during the 36 holes today. We did a terrific job of avoiding the double bogeys and poor shot decisions, playing to our strengths practically all day. We played the Par 5s decently, but we still left scoring opportunities out there. We are going to need to play the Par 3s better tomorrow, making better decisions off the tee and simply executing better.”
“I'm not surprised that we led the field today in the number of par holes. I thought the guys read the greens very well, and if our speed was slightly different on a lot of the birdie opportunities, we would have made a lot more putts. The greens were rolling very well, and there was certainly a premium for being on the right side of the hole to make putts.”
“The ball-striking was excellent by all five players all day. Sam and Garrett played better in the second round and we needed that to pick up some ground on North Alabama. Anthony and Caleb both had four birdies in the first round and three birdies in the second round. Their birdie production led our team scoring. We know that we are in a good position for tomorrow’s final round, and we will stay focused on our strengths and executing well.”
Valpo will close out the fall slate on Tuesday at the TVA Credit Union Invitational, held at Turtle Point Golf & Yacht Club in Killen, Ala. A link to live scoring via GolfStat is available on ValpoAthletics.com.