Men’s gold duel with ISU

The Bradley men’s golf team had several players finish in the top five last weekend at the I-74 Individual Challenge in Normal. The Braves and Illinois State met for the fourth consecutive year at Weibring Golf Club for a one-day tournament.

Leading the way for Bradley was junior Matthew Specht, who shot a pair of two-over 73s and finished with a 146 over the two rounds. Specht ended up tied for third at the challenge, two shots behind the medalist from Illinois State.

Despite less than ideal weather, Specht said he was able to power through and find consistency during the tournament.

“I was just able to play my game in some pretty poor conditions with the wind and the rain,” Specht said. “I really just stuck to the game plan, stayed within what I could control and was able to play really well.”

Specht said he attributes his success at the Challenge to his team and the way they’ve pushed each other for playing time.

“The team has been extremely competitive the past couple of weeks,” Specht said. “We’ve just had to play well just to get in the starting five because we have 12 guys, so we’ve just been working really hard.”

Along with Specht, sophomores Drake Bushong and Michael Mounce tied for fifth as they both fired five-over 147. Mounce was the leader after the first round after he shot a 71, but he shot a 76 in his second round to drop him into fifth.

Head coach Jeff Roche said the first few holes of the second round were really what threw Mounce off his game.

“He hit a couple shots early in that second round that allowed him to not be as confident,” Roche said. “He hit some tee shots that kind of got off line a bit, and instead of having clear shots to the green, [he] had to punch out or do something so just a few more bogeys there than the first round.”

Bradley also got their first glimpse of freshman Yuan “Leo” Li this weekend as he made his Bradley debut. Li finished with a 164, good enough for 19th overall, and Roche said he likes what he saw from his young player.

“I saw some good things as far as character and how he carried himself on the golf course,” Roche said. “That part is going to bode well for him later on as he gets better and better.”

The men’s team will now head off to Bloomington, Indiana, where they will compete in the Hoosier Invitational tomorrow and Sunday. Roche said the key to competing this weekend is controlling their shots.

“It’s a golf course that demands some accuracy off the tee,” Roche said. “The greens are really small, and the only defense they have there is to put the pins on the edges of the greens. So just being smart about where we place our approach shots to the greens.”