(Editor's Note: A correction was made to the scoring for Stetson's Jose Cruz in the final round by two shots. The change moved him to a tie for 36th overall and moved the Stetson team into a tie for seventh with Western Carolina at 877 for the tournament.)
Morganton, NC – A pair of fresh-faced youngsters took the reins for the Stetson men's golf team on Tuesday and led the Hatters to a tie for 7th place at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate, hosted by Appalachian State.
Freshman Dustin Dingus (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and sophomore Matt Taylor (Naples, Fla.) sparked the Hatters, who completed the two-day tournament just five shots out of a top five finish in the 17-team field.
Lynn University of Boca Raton, Fla., edged past James Madison for the overall team title. The Fighting Knights closed with consecutive team scores of 282 to win the tournament by one shot (854-855) over the Dukes. Wofford (860) finished six shots off the pace in third place with High Point (867) and Elon (874) rounding out the top five.
Dingus played consistently throughout the tournament, posting scores of 71-74-71 to finish tied for 16th with a six-over par score of 216. For the tournament, Dingus had eight birdies, 10 bogeys and a pair of double bogeys, one in the opening round on the eighth hole and the other in the second round on No. 11, both par 4s on the par 70 course.
“It was really a grind out there,” Dingus said. “Donald Ross courses have really small greens, and that can wear you down. You just have to keep plugging away. I played two holes at three over each and I was six over for the tournament. Eight was really long with a small green and number 11 had a sharp dogleg with a tricky green.”
Taylor had more of an up-and-down performance. After posting an opening round score of 75, which included a triple bogey on the par 4 12th hole, he came back with the individual round of the tournament with a blemish free four-under par score of 66 in the second round.
Taylor’s 66 was the low round of the tournament and one of just 22 sub-par rounds in the event.
“I came out this morning with eight holes left,” Taylor said. “I was one-under through 10 and wanted to make some birdies and I was able to make three straight. I can’t think of any competitive rounds where I didn’t have a bogey.”
Taylor said the break in play in the middle of the second round due to darkness was actually a benefit.
“I think we were all pretty tired at the end of the day yesterday,” Taylor said. “It was a little cool when we went back out this morning, but I felt good. On this course you have to put every shot in the right spot and hit the greens. That makes it a lot easier. I slipped a little on my last nine holes and made a silly double but, other than that, it was a pretty good day.”
He closed the tournament with another 75, giving him a total score of 216, which tied with Dingus for 16th place overall. For the three rounds, Taylor carded nine birdies, 10 bogeys, one double bogey and the one triple.
Hatters head coach Bob Weickel said it was a good performance for the entire team.
“Dustin had a nice string of birdies in the second round and then had one lip out on the last hole that pushed him over par in the final round,” Weickel said. “The big thing was that we hung in there and got into the middle of the pack. It was a much better showing.”
High Point’s Chase Wilson (69-68-71=208) took the individual tournament title with a final round score of 71 to edge past Casey Komline (68-67-74=209) of Appalachian State. J.T. Poston of Western Carolina, who came into the event as the highest nationally ranked player in the field, finished third, two shots off the pace.
Another Stetson sophomore, first-year player Jose Rosales Cruz (Queretaro, Mexico), had a strong showing in his first appearance for the Hatters. His college debut after spending a year at the IMG Academy in Bradenton included scores of 74-72-74 for a final of 10-over par 220. He tied for 36th overall.
Cruz finished his first tournament with nine birdies, 13 bogeys and three double bogeys.
“I was glad for Jose to get in his first tournament,” Weickel said. “He was pretty nervous, but started to relax a little about half way through that first round and I think he started to enjoy himself.”
Junior Tyler White (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and freshman Andrew Peterson (Andover, Minn.) both had good and bad rounds in the tournament. White opened the event with a three-over par 73 in the first round, but then struggled over the last two rounds, posting scores of 80 and 81. He finished at 24 over par (234) for the tournament, tied for 73rd overall.
Peterson had a rough opening round, one that included a stretch of three double-bogies over four holes, but closed the event with a solid three-over par round of 73. His overall score of 235 was good for a tie for 76th place.
The Hatters will have little time to rest up from their trip to the mountains of North Carolina before getting right back into action this weekend at the Mission Inn Collegiate Classic at El Campeon Golf Course in Howie-in-the-Hills, Fla.
“I think the whole team should feel really good,” Dingus said. “We played so much better than we did in South Carolina. We just have to carry this forward.”