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Bradley men’s golf finish 10th at Derek Dolenc Invitational

Bradley golfer Jalen Hodges in action in a tournament last season. Photo courtesy BradleyBraves.com

The busiest stretch of Bradley’s men’s golf season ended in a 10th-place finish at the 14-team Derek Dolenc Invitational on Sept. 27-28 at Gateway National Golf Club in Madison, Illinois. 

Things are looking up for the Braves, and junior Josh Kirkham is just one example of that. Kirkham is red-hot after three rounds under 76 and looking to help turn around the season for the Braves. 

It seemed everything was working for the junior in the St. Louis suburbs as he finished the invitational tied for 11th with a three-over-par 216. 

“My mental game was really strong this week and kept me in it,” Kirkham said. “I didn’t have the first round that I wanted to. I just kept telling coach that something good is going to happen. This Chick-fil-A sandwich might be it. I’m not sure what it’s going to be, but something good is going to happen.”

Maybe it was the Chick-fil-A, or maybe it was something else, but whatever Kirkham is doing is working. 

However, Kirkham is not settling for his recent top-15 finishes; he wants to keep improving.

“I just want to keep getting better and better, one shot better,” Kirkham said. “It seems that one shot is the magic number to get into the top 10. I know that if everything works out, I will run into something on accident, maybe a win or a top-five finish.” 

Jalen Hodges, the lone senior on the team, also had a great performance this weekend. He tied for 38th overall at 225. Junior Roy Radke tied for 45th at 227, graduate transfer Aaeri Krishnan tied for 49th at 228,  junior John Stillman tied for 56th at 230 playing as an individual and sophomore Brady Kreiter tied for 65th at 232. 

“We tend to struggle that first eight to 10 holes of the first round and we get ourselves into a hole,” Bradley head coach Jeff Roche said. “The rest of the day, we played pretty good. I think it is a confidence level of knowing that you belong.”

Kirkham said the biggest key for himself and his teammates is overcoming the mental game.

“We definitely need to get ourselves into a mindset that we do belong,” Roche said. “Even if it is just softening expectations and just playing golf when we first start, we need to let our abilities take over.” 

Bradley has taken a lot of steps forward after competing in some very tough tournaments this season. All the Braves can do is look to their next tournament.

“You can’t really control your outcome,” Roche said. “All you can do is just break it down into many goals, and we were able to accomplish some of those.”

The Braves get a well-deserved break from competition as they return to action Wednesday, Oct. 6 when they head to Burlington, Iowa at Spirit Hollow Golf Course.

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