Review staff writer Although the men’s golf team missed the cut for the finals at the NCAA Division III Championship tournament in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the trip was still a positive experience.
“Obviously, I’m pretty disappointed that we didn’t play better and make the cut,” senior Kevin Duerr said. “Having said that, it was a very enjoyable year, and I’m happy to have been a part of it all. It was great to see so many teams with solid players in one place. The golf courses were also nothing short of spectacular. It’s probably the best I’ve ever played.”
With a score of 623 after the second day of golf, the team placed 25th, barely missing the 23-team cut. On day two, sophomore Yutaro Sakamoto shot 75, both freshman Alex Fitch and senior Andrew Fitch shot 78 and Duerr scored 79.
While the team didn’t compete in the finals, junior Tyler Nelson continued to play as an individual, placing 60th overall with a score of 307.
Despite a comeback on the second day of the tournament, a rough start held the ’Cats back.
On day one, the team finished 47 strokes over par, and on day two, the ’Cats dropped to 22 over par.
“I played terribly on the first day, the worst on the team and my worst round all year,” Sakamoto said. “I played a big part in why we missed the cut.”
The men’s golf team has been struggling with putting all season long, a skill that also proved to be its weakness at nationals.
“We need to make more putts so that we don’t need to make big pushes later in the tournaments we play in,” Sakamoto said.
The course was also more sophisticated and difficult than the team was used to, Duerr said.
“I think despite our struggles, we really kept trying no matter what,” Duerr said. “Despite playing poorly for most of the week, we kept it together for our last nine holes on the second day and played pretty well coming in.”
Sakamoto said the team enjoyed escaping McMinnville and spending a week in Florida, even though missing the final cut was disappointing.
“We ended on a very sour note, but we still met part of our goal by getting to nationals,” he said. “We had a good regular season, so we can still go into next year with a bit of momentum and make it back to nationals.”