The men’s golf team began its 2008-09 campaign with a 15th place finish at the John Dallio Memorial last weekend.
The tournament did feature some optimism-inspiring play as well.
True, the team did finish 15th – out of 15 – but with flashes of low scoring from most of the players on the team, coach Jeff Roche remains confident things will soon turn around.
“Obviously nobody was overly happy with the finish, but there were bright spots in there,” he said. “Zach’s 71 on the first day and Coby’s 69 on the second gave us something to build around.”
Sophomore Coby Thompson’s second round 69 – a career best – was the lowest round carded by the Braves in the three days of competition. Thompson was Bradley’s top finisher, tying for 54th with a total of 231.
Next in line for the Braves was junior Zach Wanken who finished in a tie for 60th place at 233, two shots behind Thompson. Wanken did produce a first-round 71, although he failed to break 80 the final two days.
A major bright spot for the Braves was the play of their freshmen golfers.
Earl Gerlach, in his first collegiate tournament, was the only member of the team to record three rounds in the 70s (79-78-79), and fellow freshman Chris Niemiec was the low man in the third round for Bradley with his score of 77.
Gerlach finished tied for 70th, with Niemiec locking-up 86th place after a bit of a rocky start.
“Earl being the only player to shoot in the 70s all three days, that was big for us,” Roche said. “I think Chris worked hard between the two days and made some great improvements on the last day as well.”
Sophomore Nathan Perry also recorded a round in the 70s with his second round score of 78. Perry’s total of 242 was good enough for 84th place.
Nova Southeastern University won the tournament with a team score of 873, 61 shots better than Bradley’s 934.
Individual medalist honors went to Georgetown’s Brian Dorfman whose three day total of 209 (69-70-70) edged out Detroit Mercy’s Britt Pronk’s score of 211 (72-71-68).
“We know we have talent, we just need to learn how to play with it,” Roche said.
The Braves will look to build on the positives of last weekend’s tournament at the Murray State Invitational Sept. 29 to 30.