Golf heads to conference championships
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Golf is on an upswing currently at their three-day conference tournament in Orlando. After taking sixth in the Yestingsmeier Invitational withRussell Budd and Ben Westley both finishing in the top 25, Budd, Westley, Moritz Ackerhans, Jan Juelicher and John Pavelko move on to face conference rivals.
“I was encouraged by last week,” golf head coach Betty Kauffman said. “I think some of the stuff is starting to come into place. Everything is built upon trying to peak at this time of year so we’ll see what happens.”
The Demons came from behind in the Yestingsmeier starting the final day of the tournament in ninth place and finished in sixth. The last minute push to the top was a team effort. Westley finished in a tie for 20th with a tournament total of 224 (+14). Budd, just one shot behind Westley, finished in a tie for 22nd with a tournament total of 225 (+15). Ackerhans tied for 39th, posting a tournament score of 229 (+19). Pavelko tied for 46th, Juelicher finished in a group in 59th and Stephens tied for 74th place.
Westley, Budd, Ackerhans and Juelicher have all been models of consistency, yet the fifth spot on the roster has been up for grabs for most of the season. According to Kauffman, a few individuals have stepped up to fill the void.
“A couple people have filled that and that’s the interesting thing about golf,” said Kauffman. “If you look at major championships, they’ve been won by someone who is last in as an alternate. Brad Stephens did a nice job in the spring and then he struggled a little bit. John Pavelko, he’s had his good days and his weaker days. John last week after his performance beat out Brad to come to conference. That fifth spot has been up and down and I think that’s part of the learning process.”
The Big East conference championship is three rounds over three days. In last year’s conference competition, the Blue Demons finished in a tie for seventh with two players in the top ten.
After a promising fall season, the Blue Demons hit a rough patch, finishing 14 of 17 in the USF Invitational, coming in last in the Spring Break Championship and 10 of 19 in the ASU Red Wolf Intercollegiate. Their sixth place finish out of 15 teams in the Earl Yesteringsmeier Invitational was their highest place of the spring.
“It’s been interesting. We’ve had individual performances but haven’t put it together as a team, really. I think if you talk to these guys, we sometimes play 14 holes, we sometimes play 16 holes, but we haven’t put it together.”
For Westley, the tournament in Orlando will have his last round as a Blue Demon and he wants to make it memorable. The senior has four top-25 finishes this season.
“My goal is to be in the top five,” said Westley. “I got top ten last year. And it’s my last tournament ever, so I’m just trying to do well and go out on a good note.”
Kauffman sees no reason that will not be a possibility, despite stiff competition in conference. She thinks Notre Dame could specifically be a challenge because of their consistent play all year.
“They’re very beatable,” said Kauffman. “But we have to go in and we need strong performances out of every player out there. If we do that, we should be in contention.”
Westley is expecting a better performance as well.
“The whole purpose of this season was to peak at this point,” he said. “I think I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve had tournaments where I thought I played pretty poorly. And I’ve had tournaments where I thought I played well and there were just a few holes or a few shots that have kept me from getting a top ten or a top five so it’s been close. But I’d like to see it materialize into something at conference.”
Budd had similar sentiments about the way the team has played this season, but all in all thinks this has been a positive season for him.
“The results could have been better, but I think I’ve grown as a player and as… a man,” said Budd. “No but seriously, I used to be a lot more one dimensional and now I have a much broader array of shots and abilities.”