Notes & Quotes From the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

Posted by Don Moore on May 12, 2011 at 6:31 am under College | Comments are off for this article

Flash Notes and Quotes – From Wednesday’s second round.

Chris Morris Moves into First Place among Individuals

Chris Morris plays for Centre College, as in center of the cup.
That’s where Morris’ balls have been landing for two days as he followed a 67 on Tuesday on Grandover’s East Course with a seven-under-par 65 Wednesday on the West Course. And he missed a makeable birdie putt on the 18th green.

“I’m at the top of my game,” said Morris, a senior from Maysville, Ky. He won the recent Southern College Athletic Conference Tournament by an astonishing 16 strokes and shot a 61 at the Oglethorpe Invitational during the season.

Yet, he seemed more concerned at the end of his round Wednesday with the future of his Centre Praying Colonels of Danville, Ky. He wanted them to join the 15 teams who’ll qualify for the final two rounds of 2011 NCAA Men’s Division Championship Golf Tournament. Because he’s in the hunt for the individual title, he will continue to play regardless of how the team fares.

He blistered the front nine with a six-under-par 30, coming home with a one-under 35 on the back nine.

“I putted really well on the front,” he said. “My iron play was good, too. I hitting shots in the 10 to 15-foot range and downing the putts.”

After this week, he plans to play a heavy amateur tournament schedule this summer. He said it’s possible he may try pro golf eventually. Kentucky has a history of excellent tour players, including Russ Cochrane, J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry.

(Centre qualified for the final 36 holes and opens third-round play in ninth place at 597.)

Local Favorite Greensboro College Moves into Second Place
After four of five players posted low scores Wednesday, Greensboro College stands near the lead at the halfway point of the NCAA Division III Golf Championship at Grandover Resort.

So good were the Pride that its number-one player, senior Brock Elder of Randleman, N.C., found himself tied with one other player for the team’s high score among the four scores that counted. He and senior Connor Kennedy of Siler City, N.C, both shot 73. Junior Josh Nichols of Waxhaw, N.C, shot 72 and freshman Kirk Mitchell of North Wilkesboro, N.C., fired a one-under par 71.

“We just clicked today,” said Elder. “We were just playing golf, having fun and taking it one shot at a time.”

Who knows what could have been for Elder, the Pride’s top player. He said on each of the last five holes his approach shots landed to within 15 feet of the hole.

“I had five lip outs,” he said.

Among the 40 teams that started the tournament Tuesday, Greensboro’s total score of 580 is three shots behind St. John’s University, a Minnesota school.

Three Teams, Four Individuals Compete For Spots on Cut-down Day
When Eric Bunge of the University of La Verne knocked in a five-foot putt Wednesday for a par five on the 18th green at Grandover Resort’s East Course, a man approached the surprised Bunge at greenside and said, “That was the winning putt, Eric.”

His four teammates had already completed four other holes (#10, #15, #16, #17) in a playoff with Transylvania University for the 15th and final spot in the tournament after two rounds. La Verne survives to play with 14 other schools Thursday and Friday to decide the NCAA Division III national championship.

The playoff started with La Verne, Millikin University of Decatur, Ill., and Transylvania University of Lexington, Ky., tied for 14th place with matching 36-hole scores of 600. With each player playing one of five holes, Millikin University of Decatur, Ill., won the 14th spot. That left La Verne and Transylvania to continue playing for the 15th place. The tournament started with 40 teams.

Bunge was so “amped up,” as he put it, that he blasted a long drive into the lake that borders the 18th hole. He took a drop, hit a five-iron to the edge of the green, chipped and made the knee-knocker for par.

He said he wasn’t discouraged after hitting his tee ball into the water.

“I felt like I still had an opportunity,” he said. “I said to myself I couldn’t let my guys down.”

Transylvania’s Justin Tereshko had little time to shake off the disappointment of his Pioneers elimination. After Transylvania was eliminated, Tereshko was eligible to compete for the last of six individual spots reserved for low individuals whose teams did not advance. At one-over 145, Tereshko took to the 18th hole along with Gustavus Adolphus sophomore Alex Kolquist, Nebraska Wesleyan senior Patrick Hanzel and Mount Union College senior Scott Miller for the sudden-death playoff.

All four students put balls into bunkers or hazards on the par-five 18th, but Kolquist was able to overcome a first-ball bunker shot and rolled in a 15-foot downhill putt for birdie to claim the final spot.

McDaniel Plays the Waiting Game
On any other day, sitting in the clubhouse on a 604 wouldn’t provide any drama. When it’s at the NCAA Championship, however, there are always tense moments. When you know low scores are being had, the tension builds. When you know there will be another five hours of waiting just to see if you made the cut, it makes you want to pull your hair out.

That was exactly the fate for McDaniel College of Westminster, Md., Wednesday.

“It was a very nerve-wracking day,” said senior captain KJ Mazurek. “We had no control over what was going on. It was just watching the computer screen and waiting. It was good knowing that we were in the clubhouse with a pretty good score.”

The Green Terror was the first team out Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. and this, the first team in the clubhouse, setting the number that needed to be chased to make the cut. As the day progressed, the grouping in the middle got tighter and tighter and the tension escalated.

Prior to leaving the clubhouse, senior Paul Kovalcheck echoed the sentiment of most of the team. “I can’t watch any more. Just tell me when it’s over either way.”

The later the afternoon went and the more clear it was becoming that while 604 was a solid number – a number that included the Green Terror’s low round of the spring (299), it was not going to be good enough. As it turned out, the magic number was 600 – 19 strokes lower than the 15th spot in the 2010 Division III Championships at Hershey, Pa.

“After we realized that, it was hard, but we know we had a good showing,” Mazurek said. “I wish we made the cut – that was our goal coming in – but at the same time, we played really well and we gave it our all.”

Wednesday was not a total disappointment for McDaniel, however. Junior Greg Bowman will move on as an individual after playing the first 36 holes at two-under par. The future captain will continue to represent his Green Terror squad and his teammates will cheer him on from Westminster.
Courtesy of McDaniel Sports Information Director Luke Stillson

Championships Field Shows a Variety of Nicknames
Oglethorpe University is miles from the ocean, landlocked in Atlanta, Ga. So what with its nickname, the Stormy Petrels? A petrel is a species of sea gull.

The name makes sense, as do some of the nicknames of the other 39 schools competing this week in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Division III Golf Championship at the Grandover Resort. Other interesting names include the Praying Colonels of Centre (Ky.) University, the Central Dutch, from Pella, Iowa, the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties, of Saint Peter, Minn., the Manhattanville Valiants, of Purchase, N.Y., the Massachusetts-Dartmouth Corsairs; and the St. John’s Johnnies, from Minnesota.

The Blue Devils are here, the Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils, that is. But don’t go looking at a map for a town called Stout. The school is named for a person, not a place, as is Wisconsin-Eau Claire, whose nickname is the Blugolds.

And then there are the Penn State-Harrisburg Nittany Lions, not to be confused with the Penn State Nittany Lions, whose football team is coached by Joe Paterno and whose campus is in University Park, Pa.

But is the team officially the Nittany Lions or just Lions? Fredina Ingold, athletic director of Penn State-Altoona said her team is the Lions and it was the intention that all of the 20 or so branches of Penn State be Lions. The Nittany Lions would be reserved for the main campus in University Park. She said all the branches were required to change their nicknames to the Lions and their colors to blue and white, same as the big Penn State.

The idea was to achieve more uniformity in the campuses. Diplomas, regardless of which school issued them, say only Pennsylvania State University. Some of the schools, however, took it upon themselves to add Nittany in front of Lions.

“It doesn’t cause that much confusion,” Ingold said, while watching her Lions without a Nittany finish the 18th hole on Grandover’s East Course. “No one really pays any attention to it.”

As for the Stormy Petrels, Oglethorpe’s golf coach Jim Owen said the name has historic significance. He points out that James Oglethorpe founded the state of Georgia, first landing his ships on Yamacraw Bluff, near what is now Savannah, a city that Oglethorpe founded and designed.

While far out at sea, Oglethorpe noticed the stormy petrels swirling about the ship. He followed the birds, which led him to the coast of Georgia. From then on, it was Oglethorpe the man’s favorite bird.

Please no shortcuts. Do not call Oglethorpe the petrels. It has to be Stormy Petrels. There were about 40 species of petrels, including the stormy.

“This is a bird that can fly into the eye of a hurricane, plus it can fly many miles out to sea,” Owen says. “It’s a very powerful bird.”

The university is proud that ESPN has ranked the Stormy Petrels nickname as the second best among American colleges of all sizes, behind the University of California at Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. David Letterman also has ranked it second on his personal list, with the Slugs number one.

The Praying Colonels of Centre are derived from the fact that everyone in Kentucky is an honorary colonel and Centre was founded as a devout Presbyterian college. The Central Dutch comes from the school’s affiliation with the Dutch Reformed Church. The Massachusetts-Dartmouth Corsairs derives its name not from the car or airplane, but from pirates of long ago who had the blessing of the French government. Valiants, as in the Manhattanville Valiants, are knights.

Tuesday, Rich Kelly of State University of New York at Farmingdale declared himself even with teammate Adam Larkin. Kelly aced the 15th hole on Grandover Resort’s West Course. He now had a hole-in-one on his record, just as Larkin, who made his first hole-in-one last summer back in New York.

So what happens Wednesday in the second round of the NCAA Men’s 2011 Division III Golf Championship?

Larkin’s scored another hole-in-one, on the 12th hole on the East Course. He’s now one up on aces against his teammate and friend. It’s all about bragging rights.

“I hit a pitching wedge about 125 yards,” Larkin said. “My coach said to aim it a little right and it might trickle down to the hole.”

That’s what Larkin did. His coach declared, “Good shot it might go in.” It hit about 10 feet behind the hole on the right and rolled backwards, into the cup.

Kelly’s hole-in-one on Thursday also came on a hole that measured about 125 yards. He hit a nine-iron, with the ball landing about three feet behind the cup and spinning back into the hole.

Farmingdale coach Tom Azzara said he couldn’t fathom the odds of one team making two holes- in-one in two days.

“This is my 11th year and we have had one hole-in-one in that time until now,” he said. “I don’t think it will happen again in my lifetime.”

The aces didn’t propel Farmingdale up the leaderboard. The team missed the 36-hole cut Wednesday and was soon headed back to Farmingdale.

“We only practice holes-in-one,” joked player John Michael Haining. “We don’t do anything else.”

Note: University of La Verne junior Andrew Roque aced the fifth hole on the West Course later Wednesday afternoon, the tournament’s third hole in one in 36 holes.

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