NIU men’s golf: Huskies take sixth at Boilermaker Invitational

By Steve Shonder

A strong second round helped men’s golf weather a literal storm and maintain its edge over the rest of the MAC.

The Huskies (293, 286, 301, 880) finished in sixth place at the Boilermaker Invitational on Sunday in West Lafayette, Ind. The No. 3 Illinois Fighting Illini (276, 268, 285, 829) took first.

The Huskies managed to maintain their streak of defeating every MAC team on the field and finished just four strokes behind the fifth-place Indiana Hoosiers (288, 293, 295, 876). The Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (293, 298, 292, 883) and the Toledo Rockets (292, 293, 298, 883) were tied for seventh place.

“We all want to [do] the same thing and beat each other,” said head coach Tom Porten. “To be able to do that as we done all spring … it’s a really good confidence booster for us.

Illinois’ Thomas Detry (69, 67, 70, 206) and Charlie Danielson (67, 65, 74, 206) finished tied for first.

NIU sophomore Raphael Denais (71, 71, 72, 215) earned his first career top-10 finish with a tie for ninth. Sophomore Joo-Young Lee (74, 68, 75, 217) finished tied for 12th.

“I was really pleased to see Raphael get into the top-10,” Porten said. “It was a really great field and for him to get in there was a really great step for him and for the program.

The Huskies had a strong second round Saturday in the back half of their 36-hole day. They knocked in 17 birdies as they went on to finish two-under par in the round. Lee paced the Huskies in the round as he finished four-under.

“The second round, our putters got very hot,” Porten said. “We really took advantage of the weather. Yesterday was just the perfect day. Playing that second time around, our guys got very comfortable and really got locked into their distances and their yardage. That gave them the confidence to attack the hole locations. I was pleased to see them be able to do that. We were able to execute well and made enough birdies to stay competitive.”

The biggest challenge for the Huskies came on the par-3s, which told the tale of their performance. In the second round, NIU shot four-over on the par-3s, while it shot eight-over and 15-over in the first and third rounds, respectively.

While the Huskies still struggled in the third round, the weather played more of a factor than the team’s performance. Just about every team took a step back score-wise in the third round.

“It started raining lightly and became harder every 10 minutes,” Porten said. “We finished in a driving rain. It changes the expectations for the player on what they can do on the golf course. They’re just trying to make pars and get into the house at [that] point. We did a pretty good job.”