31 Iowa Conference titles
FLOWERY BRANCH, GA.— Taking on some of the nation’s top NCAA Division III competition, the Central College men’s golf team stood firm, closing in a tie for fifth in the 15-team Royal Lakes/Oglethorpe Fall Invitational Tuesday.
Central finished with 303-300—603 on the par-71 Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club, tying No. 11 Greensboro (N.C.), which shot 299-304—603.
Host Oglethorpe University (Ga.), the No. 1-rated team in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf Division III coaches’ poll, rallied for the 36-hole team title at 293-289--582. The Stormy Petrels overcame No. 2-ranked Methodist (N.C.), getting two eagles and two birdies on the final hole to win by 3 strokes. No. 22 Christopher Newport (Va.) was third at 597 and No. 13 Emory (Ga.) was fourth at 600. Among the teams Central defeated were No. 12 Southwestern (Texas), No. 20 Cal Lutheran and No. 25 La Grange (Ga.).
Sophomore David Watson (San Diego, Calif., Patrick Henry HS) had the day’s best round for the Dutch, firing an even-par 71 to finish at 82-71—153, tying for 31st.
“David came back strong,” coach Chad Green said. “That’s a good showing by him in the last meet of the fall season.”
Justin Livingston (senior, Winterset) was Central’s top finisher, tying for 17th with 73-77—150. Freshman Jared Nepomuceno (Carona, Calif., Santiago HS) shot 74-77—151 to tie for 24th, while Desmond Stoll (sophomore, Lockport, N.Y.) and Adam Squires (sophomore, Waterloo, Columbus HS) each carded 78-77—155 to tie for 35th. There were 87 players in the field.
“I felt that overall we played better today,” Green said. “Even though we didn’t hit the ball all that well, we were able to grind it out. The players had a good mindset.”
Central, which has captured 30 Iowa Conference titles, including the past four, and made 31 NCAA Division III tournament appearances, gained some valuable experience to take into the spring season. Green noted that a senior, three sophomores and a freshman made the trek to Georgia for the Dutch.
“We’re young this year,” he said. “We’re going through some of the growing pains young golfers go through. But we’re learning and gaining experience. I’m happy with how they’ve handled things so far. They’re only going to get better.”
The tournament should speed the growth process.
“This was good for our guys to go against good competition like this and have some success,” Green said.