The Stetson men’s golf team finished a wild week of qualifying on Tuesday for this weekend’s Donald Ross Invitational.
The scramble during qualifying was for one spot on the squad after four members of the team earned exemptions because of their play at the BSU Dash Thomas Memorial Tournament late last month in Boise, Idaho.
“I felt like our team played very well together at Boise and the chemistry was so good,” Hatters coach Larry Watson said.
After the four players – Zach Stark, Dirk Kuehler, Dustin Dingus and David Torres – had all played so well in Boise, with each posting an average of better than 75 per round, the decision was made to keep things very much the same for the next event.
“I was very proud of all the boys,” Watson said. “We didn't have anyone shot in the 80's in Boise and with Zach and Dirk both having shot 66 in the second round, I wanted to keep the momentum going.
“I was sure some of the other players on the squad might not like or understand why I did this, but we are trying to improve as a team, not just as individuals.”
So qualifying for the next event, which will be hosted by Appalachian State University at the Mimosa Hills Golf & Country Club in Morganton, NC, quickly heated up, with six players taking on a 36-hole qualifier.
The qualifying started at Red Tail Golf Club and finished at the Hatters’ home course, Victoria Hills Golf Club.
“I think, with only one spot available, the boys turned it up a notch,” Watson said. “I was very proud of them all. They showed me something by raising their game up a couple of notches, and that is what we need.”
“Those first round scores showed me what these kids can do when they really focus, and that is exactly what we needed,” Watson said. “We had to stop playing two different times in the first round because of the weather, then in the final round at Victoria Hills, it was absolutely miserable.
“Anyone who watched the President’s Cup will certainly understand what the boys went through. It was a downpour for the final six holes and each one of the players kept showing me their determination. In a pouring rain, it was one great shot after another. No one would budge or give up, it looked like a heavyweight fight between Tyler, Eliott Azoulay and Andrew. They were outstanding and very wet.”
White earned the spot on the travel team for the weekend’s tournament by posting a two-over par round of 74 in the rain at Victoria Hills
So the Hatters will fly out on Saturday to North Carolina to get ready for a very prestigious event. Host Appalachian State leads a very strong field of top quality Divsion I teams.
“Coach Bill Dicus of Appalachian State does a spectacular job on this event and it is played on a magnificent mountain course,” Watson said. “I just hope the boys can continue this strong play and stay focused on our team goals for the fall season and the year.”
In addition to the Hatters and the host Mountaineers, the tournament will include teams from Bethune-Cookman, Bucknell, Davidson, Elon, Gardner-Webb, High Points, James Madison, Longwood, Presbyterian, Samford, Tennessee State, Wake Forest and Wofford.
“This is why they work so hard at practice, and to see all their work pay off is the real reward for all of them,” Watson said. “They should be proud. I know I am proud for them all. Tyler showed great determination in qualifying to earn his spot and that is what you look for in a senior and a captain. He has to show the others on the team how upperclassmen should play and lead by a good example. We just need to keep it going in North Carolina.”
After a practice round on Sunday, play in the Donald Ross Invitational will start on Monday with 36 holes. The final 18 holes of the tournament will be played on Tuesday.
Live scoring for the tournament will be available throughout play at Golfstat.com.