Golf team rallies in round two
Garett McCollough | Sports Editor
Three weeks ago Pitt State golf coach Todd Loveland said he hadn’t figured out why the golf team tends to struggle on day two. But it seems that he may have found the recipe for second day success, as the Gorillas moved from ninth place to seventh on the second day of the Lindenwood Invitation on Oct. 1-2.
“Coach Loveland set a goal for us to reach as a team and we met that goal,” Brett Dowell said. “He gave us some extra motivation before the round. We also played smart on the course, so we can eliminate the high numbers.”
This was a different approach for the PSU golf team. After falling behind on the first day, it seemed the Gorilla golfers were doomed to finish near the bottom of the pack, given their tendency to play worse on the second day of competition. Instead, they rallied to take seventh place.
“We haven’t really played well on day two this year for some reason, but it does feel good to get that weight off our back,” Dowell said. “I think it was a step in the right direction.”
The earlier tournaments this year shared a common theme of the Gorillas dropping the ball on the second day, which resulted in losing ground and finishing lower than they really should have. Led by Justice Valdivia and Dowell, who shot 76 and 75 respectively in the second round, the Gorillas silenced some of the critics by trimming 14 strokes off of their previous day’s total.
Valdivia finished the day tied for 11th and Dowell finished in the 20th position with his 156 two-day score. Valdivia shot a 151, just missing a top-10 finish. However, the golfer who epitomizes how the tournament went for the Gorillas was Fletcher Harder. Harder carded a 92 the first day, well above his average and quite possibly his “worst round ever,” as he put it. He came back to post a 78 in round two, almost single-handedly eliminating the team’s excess strokes from the previous round.
This performance could well be what the team needs heading into the final fall tournament. If they can stay hot for the second round of tournament, and get their stroke back in the initial round, they may be able to nab a top-five finish in the Missouri Western Invitational in two weeks. But this is just another steppingstone to being a better team, and Dowell knows there is still work to do.
“We still need to improve as a team, but we all feel good on how we finished, because we played poorly,” Dowell said.
The Missouri Western Invitational is Oct. 15, and it will certainly be a good indicator of how the Gorillas will come out in the spring season. They will look to end the fall season on a hot streak and look forward to the spring season that concludes with the MIAA Championship.