31 Iowa Conference titles
IOWA CITY — Better conditions and a better response helped Central College vault into the lead after 36 holes of the Iowa Conference men’s golf tournament Saturday.
The punishing winds the players experienced on Friday were tamer Saturday and the Dutch did a better job around the green as they roared from a 2-shot deficit to take a 13-stroke lead at the tourney midpoint. Central, which has won 30 league titles, including the past four, shaved 28 strokes off its first-round score and is at 327-299—626 while Luther is second at 329-310—639 and Simpson is third at 329-314—643. First-round leader Wartburg had its Friday score slip from 324 to 342 after a player was ruled to have signed an incorrect scorecard. The Knights shot 310 Saturday and stand at 652 for fifth place.
Senior Justin Livingston (Winterset), who has posted a pair of top-three league finishes in the past two years, fired the day’s best round with a 1-under-par 71 on the Finkbine Golf Course, and shares the 36-hole lead at 82-71—153. Luther’s Andrew Peter is at 80-73—153 while Dubuque’s Eric Wolfe is third at 82-74—156.
A pair of Central players follow in fourth. Desmond Stoll (sophomore, Lockport, N.Y.) is at 82-75—157 while David Watson (sophomore, San Diego, Calif., Patrick Henry HS) has 81-76—157. Freshman Jared Nepomuceno (Corona, Calif., Santiago HS) is ninth at 82-77—159 and Jon Prescott (sophomore, Mendota, Ill.) is tied for 30th at 87-82—169.
“We played better,” coach Chad Green said. “I still think we left some shots out there but overall, I was happy with how we played.”
Livingston is the only Dutch player with conference tournament experience and put up the number the team needed Saturday.
“Justin responded like he should,” Green said. “He’s a senior and our No. 1 player and he shot 1-under-par. Any day you do that, it’s a good score.
“I was also very happy with Desmond Stoll. He struggled a little on the early holes but he played very well down the stretch.”
Central’s play was especially encouraging to Green given that the Dutch have three sophomores and a freshman in the lineup.
“I’m really happy to see such a young team do this well,” he said.
But, he notes, the tourney is far from over. The final two rounds are set for next Friday and Saturday at the Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids.
“It’s a typical, old-school Midwest course,” Green said. “It’s short but very tight with small greens where you have to be below the pin. You’ve got to swallow your pride on the tee and pull out a 3-wood or a hybrid a lot. It’s all about putting it in the right spots, not how far you hit it.”
And work remains.
“It will be a whole new weekend,” Green said. “We’ve got to go out and win the next weekend. We can’t look back and we can’t look ahead, we just have to look at what’s right in front of us, one shot at a time, one round at a time and one tournament at a time.”