Finishing exactly where they were expected to before conference play began, the Bradley men’s golf team rounded out the 2016 season with a fifth place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
“We stayed in it; we kept competing hard,” head coach Jeff Roche said. “I think our expectations were a little more than [fifth place], but all in all we had some really good performances.”
Senior Lyle Burns, freshman Drake Bushong and sophomore Matthew Specht led the way finishing sixth, 16th and 20th, respectively. Burns shot a 72 on the last day, which helped him finish with a score of 219 over three days.
This was the fifth-consecutive top-10 finish for Burns, who led the team with eight top-10 finishes on the year.
“I think I played really well for a really difficult course,” Burns said. “I made a couple mistakes, but I was overall pretty pleased with how I played. I wish I could have putt a little better, but overall, really good.”
With Burns scheduled to graduate at the end of the semester, he will claim Bradley’s career stroke average record at 73.79, beating the previous mark set by Andy Mickelson at 75.16 from 1999 to 2003. For setting such an outstanding record, Burns seemed very modest about what he accomplished.
“I’m really excited about it,” Burns said. “It’s always fun breaking records and seeing your hard work pay off.”
Burns said he will also miss what the golf team brings to his everyday life, including the people around him. Burns said he loved the chance to spend time with the people who share the same passions as him.
“I’m just going to miss being around the guys and being around Coach,” Burns said. “Golf is unique in that you have a lot of time to talk during practice. It’s not a lot of drills, so you can hit a few shots on the range then have a conversation with some guys.”
As Burns and Garrett Cox prepare to graduate at the end of the semester, the golf team and Roche are going to miss the leadership that these two bring every day, and will have to find a way to replace them next season.
With the fifth place finish for the Braves, the men’s golf team has now made it four consecutive seasons with a top-five finish.