The Valparaiso men’s golf team started strong and finished strong at the NCAA tournament in Columbus on Thursday afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, they ran into some trouble in the middle rounds, tallying five double bogeys in the middle third of the course and shooting 309, good for last place among the 13 teams at the regional.
The Crusaders are five strokes behind 12th-place Chattanooga and 22 strokes behind first-place Charlotte. The Columbus regional continues through Saturday.
“We struggled in the middle with making birdies and saving pars,” Valparaiso coach David Gring said. “We closed well. I thought the last six holes we played strong.”
Kyle Henning got the Crusaders off to a quick start by sinking a birdie putt on the first hole of the day. Valparaiso would get just two more birdies on the front nine as Henning and Andy Webb both carded a 3 on the Par-4 ninth hole.
Webb would birdie twice on the back nine while Henning and Brad Winters each had one birdie on the last half of the course.
“There were some five-footers and six-footers that we didn’t convert,” Gring said. “We just had some poor shot selection, shots that really could’ve made the difference between one or two strokes per guy.
"We hit a lot of good shots, but our scores didn’t necessarily reflect that.”
Winters shot a team-best 76 while the rest of the Crusaders were within five shots of the senior. Austin Gaugert was the only Valparaiso golfer not to double bogey, but the senior did have four consecutive bogeys in the early part of the front nine.
“This is the type of course you have to play smart and if you hit a poor shot, this course will make you pay for it,” Gring said. “We had some of that today.”
The Crusaders will return to the Scarlet Course at Ohio State today for the second round and will be the last team to begin the round.