|Redbird men’s golf team launches spring campaign|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 17 February 2011 00:42|
The Illinois State men’s golf team finished its first tournament of the spring season in San Antonio, Texas, at the 54-hole, two-day UTSA Oak Hills Invitational, which began on Monday at the Oak Hills Country Club.
The Redbirds fell short in the competition, earning 15th place out of a field of 17 teams.
“We [kicked] off the spring season and [got] right into the heat of competition,” ISU men’s golf head coach Ray Kralis said.
The field of competition consisted of top-teams, including UTSA, Oklahoma, Air Force, Wichita State, North Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Tulsa, Sam Houston State, Texas State, Southeastern Louisiana, Rice, Texas Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Iowa State and Stephen F. Austin.
The weekend lineup for the Redbirds included seniors Jeff Kellen and Will Cullen, junior Eric Meier, sophomore Ricky Hearden and freshman Wils Hawn.
After struggling initially, the Redbirds finished the first day of competition in 16th place after carding a 31-over-par 605 (305-294).
“The first day was a harsh reminder that indoor golf practice and tournament competition are not the same animal,” Kralis said.
On the first day of the invitational, Kellen fronted the ‘Birds, shooting a seven-over-par 149 (76-73), earning him 48th place after finishing up the 36-hole tournament play.
Meier (73-77) and Hawn (80-70) tied for 56th place after both shooting an eight-over-par 150.
Hearden ended the two-round day tying for 75th place after an 11-over-par 153 finish (79-74).
Cullen completed the day with a 13-over-par 155 (77-78), earning him 83rd place.
Despite the slow start to day one, Kralis was impressed with the improvements made from round one to round two, considering the harsh Illinois winter weather and inconvenient indoor practices.
On Tuesday’s final round of competition, the Redbirds improved their play and moved up in the rankings to end the competition in 15th place overall, after carding a 53-over-par 905 (305-294-306).
Kellen led the ‘Birds, shooting an 11-over-par 224 (76-73-75), moving him up in the rankings to 47th place.
Also contributing to the ‘Birds’ improvement was Hawn, as the freshman shot a 13-over-par 226 (80-70-76), tying for 54th place.
Hearden made the most drastic improvement from day one to day two of competition, as he completed the invitational with a 15-over-par 228 (79-74-75), which upgraded him 11 spots from 75th to 64th place.
Despite the unfavorable outcome of the tournament, Kralis looks at the tournament as a step further into preparation for the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
Texas Tech finished out the tournament in first place by 12 strokes with a 15-under-par 837 (273-277-287).
“We didn’t get the low number or two that you need to have, and we had to count a high fourth score,” Kralis said. “But patience is imperative for us, considering this was our first outing outdoors and on grass, and I saw many positives through the lineup. Fortunately, we start fresh again next weekend.”
The Redbirds will continue the 2011 spring season in Mobile, Ala., as they compete in the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate Feb. 21-22.