31 Iowa Conference titles
PELLA—Back for the fifth straight year, the Central College men’s golf team makes its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Division III championships this week.
The 72-hole tournament will be staged Tuesday through Friday, May 14-17 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Fla. Central tackles the Raven Golf Club Tuesday and the Links Course Wednesday. Hosted by 2010 champion Methodist University (N.C.), the field features 41 teams and 210 individuals. The field will be cut to the top 15 teams after 36 holes.
The Dutch earned an automatic bid to the championships by winning a record 31st Iowa Conference championship, taking the 72-hole crown by 28 shots at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City and the Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids. The Dutch posted the low score each round, scored under 300 the final three rounds and placed three individuals in the top 10.
“If we can keep the momentum of sub-300 rounds going we’ll have a good shot at making the cut to advance,” coach Chad Green said.
Central’s NCAA lineup includes league runner-up Justin Livingston (senior, Winterset) and all-conference honorees Desmond Stoll (sophomore, Lockport, N.Y.) and David Watson (sophomore, San Diego, Calif., Patrick Henry HS). They’re joined by Jared Nepomuceno (freshman, Corona, Calif., Santiago HS) and Adam Squires (sophomore, Waterloo, Columbus HS).
“We’re definitely young but we’re strong from 1-5,” Green said. “We need to get over our inexperience and the mental aspect of viewing it as a national championship. We need to believe in our physical talent and have the mentality that it’s just another tournament.”
Livingston, a three-time all-league honoree, and Squires are the only players with NCAA experience. Livingston has competed at the championships twice, with the 2012 squad that placed 25th and the 2011 unit that finished 23rd. Squires was a member of last year’s team and was one-shot away from making the 36-hole cut as an individual.
“We need to keep the ball dry, make putts and keep the big numbers off the scorecard,” Green said. “Last year we were plagued by big numbers.”
Green views defending champion Oglethorpe (Ga.) and Methodist as the top contenders, along with Illinois Wesleyan and Minnesota favorites St. John’s, St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus.
Central saw several of the perennial powers at the Royal Lakes/Oglethorpe Fall Invitational Oct. 8-9 in Flowery Branch, Ga., where the Dutch tied for fifth in a 15-team field. Oglethorpe topped Methodist for the title. Central is using that same lineup at the NCAA meet.
The Raven Golf Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and was a stop in the 2006 and 2007 PGA Champions Tour. The Links Course is a Tom Jackson design and runs along the Choctawhatchee Bay.
“They’re your typical Florida courses with lots of water and lots of bunkers,” Green said. “It looks like the Links has a little more water while the Raven is more tree-lined.
“There’s no doubt it’ll be tough. But we’re there with a chance to win and that’s our goal.”