The Bradley men’s golf team finished 12th out of 13 teams at the NCAA Regional in Bryan, Texas on May 16 . This was the first time since 1955 that the men’s team had earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
On the first day, Bradley recorded 297 and finished seventh in the overall competition. All Bradley competitors stroked less than 5-over-par 77, lead by senior Ethan Brue’s 1-over-par 73. Bradley’s seventh place spot in the standings was overshadowed by Texas A&M who lead the field at 279, followed by Baylor at 282.
Bradley faltered on the second day, adding six strokes to put them at 303. This pushed them back to 11th place, as they were one of five teams to tie or not improve from their first day total. Junior Drake Bushong became Bradley’s individual leader at 146, after he recorded a 1-over-par 73.
“Overall, I was satisfied with my performance being the first time I have ever competed in such an event,” Bushong said. “However, I felt that I left a few shots out there each round with how well I hit the ball.”
On the third and final day, Georgia, who sat behind Bradley at the end of the second day, recorded a 292 as Bradley only managed a 301. This sent Bradley down to 12th place. The Braves finished with a total of 901.
“I felt good about our performance,” Head Coach Jeff Roche said. “Obviously, as the competitors that we are, we would’ve liked to of finished higher on the leaderboard. The experience was a great combination of the careers of our seniors and give our juniors an opportunity to see what it’s like and what it takes to be at the NCAA tournament.
Last-placed San Francisco finished with a 904 and Texas A&M won the competition with 837, nine strokes under second placed Clemson. Bushong said that the experience was beneficial to the team moving forward to next season.
[This NCAA tournament play] will give the team a great amount of confidence that we can do it again and that we belong in that number one spot,” Bushong said.
Roche said he expects Bushong to focus on improving his game during this off season. “[Bushong’s] all-around game is already pretty good,” Roche said. “He is one of the smartest players, if not the smartest player, that we have had at Bradley. Learning to shoot lower scores on a regular basis and building on his personal best will be a key focus.”
This story is part of the Scout 2018 summer special issue. Read the full summer issue.