Men’s golf among top finishers in elite tournament

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By: Will Heidenreich, Sports Editor

Over spring break break, the No. 3 nationally-ranked Illinois Wesleyan men’s golf team traded the cold of the midwest for the sunshine of Georgia, where they competed in the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational held at Pine Lakes Golf Club. The Titans compete in this tournament at the start of every season.

A majority of the team having played the course in previous years, it was no surprise the Titans led the tournament after the first day of competition with a team score of even par 288, two strokes ahead of Kenyon College (300).
Score leaders from the first round included senior Conner O’Neil, shooting 70 (2 under par), followed by freshman Rob Wuethrich (71) and freshman Andrew Abel (73).

“Playing the course as many times as we have helped us create a plan of attack,” said O’Neil. Following the second day of competition the Titans dropped to 6th, with a team score of 298 (10 over par). Freshman Andrew Abel was the only Titan golfer to see improvement in his performance, shooting 71 (1 under par), O’Neil trailing Abel with 75 (3 over par) and Wuethrich finishing with a score of 77 (5 over par).

“This is one of the shorter courses we all year, and being a team that tends to shoot long off the tee affected our play,” said O’Neil. play “It led us to a more conservative play, and with that course it is all about putting the ball in play,” added junior golfer Ben Johnson.

During the third and final day of competition the Titans finished the tournament with a score of 296 (8 over par), placing 10th overall. Wuethrich, matched his first round performance with a 71, followed by O’Neil (73) and sophomore Daniel Cole (75). Despite not finishing the tournament in the fashion they desired, the team took away many positive aspects from their competition.

“Our consistency was there, it’s just a matter of becoming more comfortable,” said Johnson, “and it’s important that we never stop competing” O’Neil’s performance in the tournament led to him being named the CCIW Men’s Golfer of the Week. “Every time I step on the course I learn something. I always try to better when I go to bed at night than I was in the morning. And if I can do that, I’ll keep succeeding,” O’Neil said.

The Titans next competition will be at Ironwood Golf Course in Normal on April 6, where they will host Illinois Wesleyan Invitational. IWU will try to take home the trophy for the second straight year in this event, after finishing first last year and taking a close second the year before. Following a promising performance against some of the best D-III golf teams in the country, it can be expected that the Titans will continue to improve their play, looking to record a second consecutive win at their home tournament.