Despite blustery winds challenging the team throughout the day, the Illinois State men’s golf team battled back from a deficit to finish third in the Badger Invitational on Tuesday.
After finishing the first day of the tournament tied for third-place, the team fell into sixth place after play on Monday. However, the Redbirds climbed back into third place to round out play on Tuesday at the par-72, 7,259 yard University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wisc. Head coach Ray Kralis spoke highly of his team’s level of competition.
“Strong and steady winds again made for a challenging day and clearly impacted the entire field,” Kralis said. “Jordan [Fahel] and Kyle Meihofer finished strong with very impressive 70s to lead us, and to get two sub-par scores on a day like today was huge for our team total. The team total was the second best of the day and moved us up the leaderboard. We were just three shots back of second in a very solid field, which is a great way to finish heading into Firestone next week.”
Recording his personal-best of 215 (71-74-70), Fahel led the way for the Redbirds, tying for third place as an individual. Meihofer was right in tow, shooting for 216 (71-75-70) and tying for fifth place individually. Parker Freiburg was next in the lineup, finishing tied for 33rd while being 10 strokes short of Meihofer with 226 (71-75-80). Wils Hawn swung for 228 (74-76-78). Rounding out the lineup for the Redbirds was Josh Edison, who carded a three-round score of 240 (81-81-78).
The ’Birds finished day one of the tournament tied for third place, in what Kralis considered a good team effort coupled with optimum weather conditions.
“We had a solid team effort to put us right in the mix,” Kralis said. “The conditions [on Sunday] were ideal, making it rough to create much separation in the field. So, we’ll need another strong effort Monday. There is still a long way to go, and we need to stay focused on what we can control and continue to trust in our abilities.”
However, conditions deteriorated on Tuesday, as strong winds began blowing in the Badger State. South Carolina tore into a 12-point lead over ISU. With only four strokes separating the second through sixth-place teams, play remained tight and Kralis remained confident.
“The course showed some teeth today with stronger winds making scoring more difficult,” Kralis said. “While South Carolina has separated from the pack, the teams near the top [were] still bunched tightly together, so we [needed] a strong individual and team effort in round three to finish it off.”
South Carolina definitively won the tournament with a team score of 856 (282-283-291), besting the second-place Kansas (290-294-296) by 24 strokes. After Illinois State’s third-place finish, USC Upstate (886) and Austin Peay State (891) rounded out the top-five.
The ISU men’s golf team will be back in action Monday and Tuesday at the Firestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.