31 Iowa Conference titles
PELLA— The Dutch are back and ready to take care of business.
But it’s one day at a time for the Central College men’s golf team as it prepares for its 31st appearance at the NCAA Division III championships, held May 15-18 at the Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
That’s how the Dutch received a bid into the tournament. The squad posted the low score at all four rounds of the Iowa Conference championships. Central captured its 30th league title by a 37-stroke margin, efficiently stamping its ticket to nationals.
The NCAA championship field features 41-teams and 210 players. After two rounds of the 72-hole tournament, the field is reduced to 15 teams. Last year Central shaved 14 strokes off its first-round score but missed the third-round cut by 10 shots to finish 23rd overall.
“Our first goal for the tournament is to make the cut,” coach Chad Green said. “To do that we need to keep big numbers off the scorecard. That really hurt us last year. We also need to have a solid fourth score. We can’t be keeping 79s and 80s.”
The Dutch will use the same lineup from the final weekend of the league meet. Four of the five golfers have already competed on the big stage.
“There’s a reason why there are things called rookie mistakes,” Green said. “Our golfers aren’t rookies and having that national experience will help them mentally. They’ll know what to expect.”
Central is led by junior Justin Livingston (Winterset). He received all-conference honors for the second straight year at the league tournament, finishing third. He took runner-up honors in 2011. Livingston leads the Dutch with 75.5 average.
“Justin had the teeter-totter effect at conference,” Green said. “He shot 80 and then a 72. If he gets his bad days not so bad and keeps his good days the same, we’ll be happy.”
Brent Goodenow (senior, Johnston) averages 77.1 and was an all-league selection with a fourth-place finish. He competed at the NCAA tournament in 2010.
“Brent turned in two solid scores to finish 2-under (par) at Finkbine, which isn’t easy to do,” Green said.
Matt Vegter (senior, Morrison, Ill.) took fifth at the league tournament, also receiving all-conference recognition. He has a 79.2 average and went to the championships in 2009.
Brent Messmore (senior, Hudson) is a two-time participant at the national meet, competing in both 2010 and 2011. He's averaging 77.1 and earned all-league distinction in 2010.
Rounding out the squad is freshman Adam Squires (Waterloo, Columbus HS). He jumped into the top five halfway through the league tournament and is averaging 77.9.
Along with national experience, the lineup has also already played at the resort. Central played both tourney courses on its spring break trip in March.
“It’s nice to already know the lay of the land,” Green said.
The four rounds of the tournament will be split between the par-72 Las Colinas and the par-73 El Campeon.
“El Campeon was built in 1917 and is an old-school course with tree-lined fairways,” Green said. “Las Colinas was built in the ‘90s and is your traditional Florida course with lots of water and pond-lined fairways. They’re two very different styles.”
Last year, Greensboro captured the team title by six shots over Illinois Wesleyan. Green expects the two to be top contenders again, along with Methodist (N.C.) and Guilford (N.C.). But it’s anybody’s game.
“There are some favorites but the tournament’s wide open,” Green said. “It’s like professional golf. The No. 1 person doesn’t win every week. It depends on who is hot at the time.”
The challenge for the Dutch is to play their game.
“I always say there’s no defense in golf,” Green said. “We can only control what we do. We need to play our own game and not get wrapped up in what the competition is doing.”