Bob­cat golfers fin­ish fourth at USCAA Na­tion­als

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

With just 10 holes to play in the fi­nal round of the 2017 United States Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion Men’s Golf Na­tional Cham­pi­onship at Penn State Uni­ver­sity this past Tues­day, Ge­or­gia North­west­ern Tech­ni­cal Col­lege - who as re­cently as five months ago was still sign­ing play­ers to field a team af­ter a year’s hia­tus - found it­self atop the leader­board.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Bob­cats, they couldn’t close the deal.

Af­ter mak­ing the turn at 7-over par as a team in the fi­nal round, things went sour for the Navy-and-Sil­ver down the stretch. A tough back nine, along with a cou­ple of two-stroke penal­ties, con­spired against the Bob­cats as they went 18-over on the fi­nal nine holes and slipped to fourth place in the fi­nal team stand­ings.

Cleary Uni­ver­sity (Mich.), the 2015 na­tional cham­pi­ons who shot a 298 in Mon­day’s open­ing round, couldn’t keep up the pace in the fi­nal 18 holes. They carded a 311 on Tues­day, leav­ing the door open for SUNYDelhi, who fired a 295. That score, com­bined with a 309 in the open­ing round, gave the Bron­cos a 36-hole to­tal of 604 and the na­tional ti­tle.

The 295 was the fourth-low­est round by a team in the his­tory of the USCAA Na­tional Cham­pi­onships.

Cleary still had enough to hang for the run­ner-up tro­phy as their 609 was two shots clear of In­di­ana firstyear pro­gram St. Mary’s of the Woods Col­lege (301-310). Ge­or­gia North­west­ern (303-313) fin­ished at 616.

In­di­vid­u­ally, Bran­ton Bai­ley carded scores of 75 and 78 for the Bob­cats. His to­tal of 153 (9-over-par) tied him for 11th place and was low enough to earn se­cond team All-Amer­i­can hon­ors.

Adrian Clark fin­ished at 155 (75-80,), while David Ma­nis (157) re­bounded from an open­ing round 83 to fire a team-low 2-over par 74 on Tues­day. Lane Strick­land shot a 153 (77-81) and Cole Roberts fin­ished up with a 162 (76-86). All five Bob­cat golfers fin­ished in the top half of the 112-player field.

“I think (plac­ing fourth) says a lot about our guys,” head coach Ed­die Jack­son said. “When we got up there, I’m not sure how well they thought they would play, even though I tried to tell them go­ing up there that I thought we had a good chance. But once we got go­ing, they knew we were good enough to play with ev­ery­one there.

“I can’t beieve how far we have come, es­pe­cially with only hav­ing five play­ers. What’s more amaz­ing is that most of the schools we played against up there give ath­letic schol­ar­ships and we don’t. We re­ally played well. We seized the lead and were up by two shots af­ter eight holes (in the fi­nal round), but we just didn’t fin­ish well. Maybe just be­ing fresh­men and never hav­ing been in that type of sit­u­a­tion be­fore had a ilt­tle to do with it. Still, I’m ex­cited about what we did and this group we have.”

Colton Kup­pler of St. Mary’s (75-70) and Rus­sell Her­bert of SUNY-Delhi (7273) fin­ished tied at 1-over par (145) in the in­di­vid­ual stand­ings af­ter 36 holes. Kup­pler later carded a birdie on the first play­off hole to win the in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onship.

The USCAA Na­tional Cham­pi­onships may be over, but the fall sea­son still has a month to go for Ge­or­gia North­west­ern. The Bob­cats will play at the Berry Col­lege In­vi­ta­tional at the Stone­bridge Golf and Coun­try Club in Rome on Oct. 22-24 be­fore head­ing to Alexan­der City, Ala. on Nov. 12-14 for the Tro­jan In­vi­ta­tional, hosted by Cen­tral Alabama C.C.

Ge­or­gia North­west­ern fresh­man golfer Bran­ton Bai­ley earned USCAA se­cond team All-Amer­i­can hon­ors dur­ing the USCAA Na­tion­als at Penn State Uni­ver­sity last week. The Bob­cats placed fourth over­all, 12 shots out of first place. (File photo by Scott Herpst)

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