Fresh off its best team finish last week, the men’s golf team took home a 16th-place finish at Monday and Tuesday’s Austin Peay Intercollegiate at the Links at Novadell in Hopkinsville, Ky.
Led by another all-70s performance by freshman Earl Gerlach, the Braves finished with a team score of 904, which was good enough to dodge last place by five shots.
Gerlach wound up in a tie for 48th place in the individual scoring after finishing with a total of 224 (75-76-73). His final round of 73 was also a career-low.
“I felt like I played pretty solid,” Gerlach said. “I hit a couple of errant shots, but the course was pretty wide open so you could miss big and still be alright.”
With three more rounds in the 70s, Gerlach remains the only Bradley player who hasn’t shot in the 80s this year.
“Earl has done a great job adjusting to his first year playing collegiate golf,” coach Jeff Roche said. “He is really learning to minimize errors, and as a result you can see his scores are getting progressively lower.”
Sophomore Coby Thompson came next in line for the Braves with his three-day total of 225 (74-76-75), which earned him a tie for 52nd place overall.
Trailing Thompson by one shot was junior Zach Wanken, who finished at 226 (78-75-73). Coming off top-20 finishes in his previous two tournaments, Wanken took home a tie for 57th place. His final round 73 tied Gerlach for the low Bradley round in the tournament.
Freshman Chris Neimiec and sophomore Nathan Perry rounded out the scoring for the Braves with Neimiec arriving at a total of 229 and Perry 10 shots behind at 239. Neimiec finished in a tie for 68th place, and Perry ended-up in 89th.
Tournament host Austin Peay cruised by Missouri to take home the team title with a total of 832, finishing nine shots ahead of the Tigers. Austin Peay’s Erik Barnes was the individual medalist of the tournament after firing a pair of 66s in the first two rounds, and a final round 67 for a total of 199.
Missouri’s Peter Malnati finished six shots behind Barnes at 205 to take home second place and was followed up by teammate William Harrold who took third at 207.
Belmont finished well behind Missouri at 860 to lock up third place in the team competition.
This tournament marks the end of Bradley’s fall season and with more conference play approaching in the spring, Roche said he knows the team must continue to improve.
“Obviously conference is the mark of our season,” Roche said. “Right now, our finishes really haven’t been any better than last year, but our scores are definitely improving. Now it’s about continuing to minimize errors and find that balance between shooting 300 and 290.”
Roche said he knows his players have the physical talent to compete, but one thing they need to work on this off-season is mental toughness and course management.
“If we can get those things down, that’s when we can compete at the highest level,” Roche said.
After the winter off-season, the Braves will return to action early next spring.