As anyone who works in higher education (myself included) will tell you, come the end of the academic year most things begin to shift to the coming fall post-haste. But BSU athletics is not quite ready to let 2012-2013 go gently into that good night, as the Ball State men’s golf team still has some unfinished business in Milton, GA. Like, you know, THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT.
Ball State is making hay amongst some big boys in collegiate golf as they are actually ahead of five teams ranked in the top 20. Now, I’m a football first kind of fan and the amount of knowledge I have about collegiate golf could probably fit in one of my DryJoys, but beating five top 20 teams after one day of competition seems pretty darn good.
To the release we go…
MILTON, Ga. — The Ball State men’s golf team found itself atop the leaderboard early Tuesday, dropped some shots down the stretch but still finished day one of the NCAA Championships ahead of five teams ranked in the top 20 in the country.
The Cardinals, playing in the morning wave with half the teams in the field, were in first place at 5-under par near the turn at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.
After the conclusion of the challenging back nine, they had posted a 10-over par total of 290 for their best ever NCAA Championships round in their first appearance at the finals since 1986.
Ball State was in 28th place when it came off the course but moved up to 24th as the top 15 seeds, playing in the afternoon wave, made their way around the par-70, 7,319-yard layout.
By the day’s end, the Cardinals were ahead of No. 6-ranked New Mexico, No. 10 TCU, No. 11 Florida, No. 12 Southern California and No. 19 Auburn.
“We hung in there,” Ball State coach Mike Fleck said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better start, and then the golf course kind of changed as our round went on. We gave some shots away on the back nine, but we’re still going to be in the mix going into the next two days.”
Tony Lazzara shot Ball State to the top early Tuesday with birdies on three of his first five holes. A pair of consecutive birdies to start his back nine had Lazzara to 4-under and among the top 5 individually. He finished his day at even-par 70, matching the best ever round by a Cardinal at the NCAA finals, and sits in a tie for 34th place.
Alex Stinson, who recorded 15 pars on the day, and Tyler Merkel each posted rounds of 2-over par 72 and find themselves in a tie for 66th. Joe Gasser turned in a round of 76 as Ball State’s fourth counting score, while McCormick Clouser had a solid round going until the tough final three-hole stretch left him with a 77.
“When we were playing in the morning, it was calm, the conditions were softer, and the holes were a little bit easier,” Fleck said. “On the back nine, the holes were a little bit tougher, the wind picked up, and everything started to firm up a little bit. The golf course was definitely getting harder as the day went on.”
Arizona State freshman Jon Rahm turned in the round of the day Tuesday with what is believed to be a competitive course-record 61. He led the Sun Devils to a round of 10-under par, which was the top score on day one. Arizona State is followed on the team leaderboard by Georgia Tech (-6), Alabama (-5), Illinois (-4) and California (-3).
Ball State will play in the afternoon wave for Wednesday’s second round with tee times starting at 2 p.m. The Cardinals will again play with Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina.
There are two rounds of stroke play remaining before the field will be cut to eight teams for match play. Ball State will enter the second round 11 shots out of eighth place.
Unlike most par 5s for me, 11 shots out of eighth place doesn’t seem unreachable at all. Chirp chirp BSU golfers.
In other BSU news, the baseball Cards put on one hell of a show in the MAC tournament and played BG for the championship on Sunday losing 7-0. Having not followed college baseball all that closely since Bryan Bullington was in Muncie, it was nice to see the Cards put on a show to close the year and come so close to reaching the NCAA tourney. Along the way they knocked off #1 seed Kent State, the same Kent State that was the media darling at the College World Series last year. Someone more knowledgeable about MAC baseball may have to explain to me how a team can lose one game in a double elimination tourney and not have the right to play again until they got their 2nd or handed BG theirs, but alas, that was the case Sunday for the Cards. Only in the MAC. Nice work, fellas.
As we close the book on 2012-2013 in the coming days, I hope everyone remembers what a phenomenal year for BSU athletics it has been. Whether it was the football team’s unexpected success and bowl trip, the women’s basketball team’s NIT invitation and Brady Sallee’s successful opening salvo, the hiring of James Whitford to hopefully right the ship in men’s basketball, Rich Maloney and crew’s wildly unexpected baseball season, men’s golf in the national championship tourney, men’s volleyball with a top 10 ranking, women’s gymnast Brittney Emmons competed at the NCAA regional, the softball Cards were the MAC tourney’s top seed, a $20 million athletic capital campaign was launched, and BSU’s Sportslink continued to rack up national awards. For all intents and purposes, it was a wildly successful first year in the Bill Scholl era as Athletics Director and if the hires he’s made deliver the future is bright.
OTP will kick off our summer content in short order and begin to ramp up for fall sports. Most notably, the football Cardinals are less than 100 days from opening Year 3 of the Lembo Regime and I may or may not be beginning to whisper about things that I haven’t whispered about since 2008. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. We’ll have some other goodies like our usual summer tomfoolery like our opponent previews (maybe the return of Threat Level Argyle) and our preseason picks and predictions. We’ll also roll out a new format for the OTPcast that I am ridiculously excited (and more than a little apprehensive) about. Freeform Friday will continue and hopefully we’ll be bringing on some new writers around these parts. Stay tuned, Cards fans. Chirp F’ing Chirp.
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