Junior Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) added to his long list of Valparaiso University men’s golf accomplishments on Tuesday at the Dove Mountain Intercollegiate in Marana, Ariz. VanArragon entered the day facing a four-stroke deficit for medalist honors, but made up five strokes over the final round to earn the top spot in the 41-player field.
How It Happened
- VanArragon carded par or better in all three rounds on the par-72, 7291-yard course in the event, a destination tournament hosted by the Beacons. He enjoyed his best round of the week on Tuesday, posting a score of 69 (-3) to finish at 211 (-5). VanArragon edged Arizona State’s Jose Luis Ballester, who finished as the runner-up at 212 (-4).
- The Sun Devils, ranked the No. 2 team in the country, had the rest of the top four behind VanArragon. Arizona also had a pair of golfers in the top 10.
- Freshman Anthony Delisanti (Sanborn, N.Y. / Niagara Wheatfield) also made his way into the competitive top 10. He finished ninth with a 230 (+14) that included a 77 (+5) on the event’s final day.
- The third Beacon on the player leaderboard was Yianni Kostouros (Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point [Ball State]), who finished the 54 holes at 237 (+21). He tied for 23rd.
- The second-best score by a Valpo player in Tuesday’s final round (behind only VanArragon) came courtesy of Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead), who turned in a 75 (+3) to finish the three rounds at 238, placing 25th.
- As a team, Valpo finished as the runner-up behind team champion North Dakota State. The Bison finished at 906 (+42, 305-292-309), topping Valpo by seven strokes. The Beacons finished at 913 (303-308-302), boasting the top Round-3 score of any team.
Inside the Round
- VanArragon earned his second career medalist honor with the previous one coming on April 19, 2021 at the Wright State Invitational. (He also finished tied for first in a single-round event in Burlington, Iowa on Oct. 6.)
- This marks the fifth time this season VanArragon has finished either first or second in an event. This marks the ninth top-2 finish of his collegiate career.
- By finishing five strokes under par, VanArragon tied his career best for 54-hole score in relation to par. He previously reached that mark at the Zach Johnson Invitational on Sept. 27-28, 2021.
- VanArragon’s score of five strokes under is tied for fourth in modern program history for 54-hole tournament low. He joined his own mark along with three others in a tie for fourth on that list.
- As a team, Valpo had the most birdies in the field with 34 and also finished tied for the most pars with 148. The Beacons led the tournament in par-4 scoring average at 4.40.
- VanArragon led the tournament with 14 birdies, while none of the other competitors in the event had more than 10.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
"While we had another competitive tournament with the team close to finishing in first place, the experience we gain from these types of tournaments is priceless. It's certainly disappointing to come up short of the team victory, but the competitive rounds are telling us exactly what we need to work on prior to our next event. I told the team that I was very pleased with the desire and effort that they were showing throughout the tournament, despite playing through adversity at times with the challenging golf course."
"The Jack Nicklaus design Golf Club at Dove Mountain was a tremendous test for us. This will probably be the toughest golf course that we play all year. The golf course certainly rewarded good shots and poor shots were penalized. We talked about driving accuracy off the tee boxes, not missing approach shots to the short-side of greens and having good speed and distance control with our putting. Our accuracy off the tee was pretty good all three rounds. We had some unplayables, but not a lot of penalties from tee shots. We struggled with distance control of our irons and that put us in challenging positions around the greens for an up and down. Between the dry air and playing at a 2600' altitude, we had to really think through the distance of each approach shot. On the greens, we knew they had a lot of undulation and the green complexes would demand good speed with our putts. Each player left a number of strokes on the course from 3-putts and missed birdie opportunities."
"It was a joy to host the seven teams that were able to attend this inaugural tournament. The golf course is absolutely breathtaking, next to the Catalina Mountains of North Tucson. We could not have asked for better weather and it was terrific to take almost our entire team to the event. We are hoping to continue hosting this potential early spring tournament in the years to come."
Valpo will return to the Valley of the Sun to begin the two-day GCU Invitational on Monday, March 14. The event will be hosted at GCU Golf Course in Phoenix.