Northern Star file photo
DeKALB — The men’s golf team competed in the Titleist Footjoy Invitational presented by Glass Solutions Inc. from Oct. 16 to Oct. 18. The three-round stroke play tournament was the penultimate event in the Heide Wealth Management Series hosted by NIU.
Graduate student Jordan Less secured his second win in as many weeks posting a 4-over 220 score to run away with the tournament by eight strokes over junior Tommy Dunsire.
Less came into the event off a strong performance, not just at the ACP CreativIT Shootout at Rich Harvest Farms, but also his -10 performance at the Joliet Amateur that same weekend. Less’ scores of 63-69 lead him to victory at the amateur event.
“Shooting a 63 doesn’t erode confidence, but my belief in my ability to play and score the ball really helped,” Less said.
On Friday, Less started off the tournament strong, carding a 4-over 76 at Crystal Tree Golf & Country Club in Orland Park tying himself for the overnight lead with Dunsire and one shot clear of first-year Joshua Labounty and redshirt junior Austin Freeman.
Saturday saw the team travel to a windy Chicago Highlands in Westchester where Less fired another solid round of 75 on the links-style layout. Less recorded two birdies and four holes of bogey or worse, placing him in the clubhouse atop the leaderboard heading into the final round on Sunday.
“[Chicago] Highlands presented difficult challenges. There’s not a single tree on the golf course and winds gusts up to 45 mph from hole two on,” Head Coach John Carlson said.
With heavy winds throughout Saturday afternoon and temperatures hovering in the lower 60s, strategy and course management became key in posting a good score.
“Keeping the ball in play off the tee was key, then just finding your lines from the fairway to put it at the hole became the focal point,” Less said.
Less would be joined at the top by junior Reece Nilsen who, on Saturday, carded the lowest round on the course with a 2-under 70. Nilsen tallied five birdies and one eagle. Nilsen’s Saturday performance gave him a shot at the trophy heading into Sunday at Black Sheep Golf Club in Sugar Grove.
“For [Less] and [Nilsen] to put up those scores in those conditions shows ability to play tough tracks and contend,” Carlson said.
The final round provided for Less to card his best score of the weekend. Less rolled in four birdies to one bogey for a closing round of 69.
Nilsen, the overnight co-leader, struggled Sunday to card an under-par score; totaling six bogeys to no birdies for a 6-over 78, dropping him from a share of the lead to a solo third finish.
Dunsire on Sunday climbed the leaderboard after shooting a 2-under 70. Dunsire started and finished the round hot recording six birdies between holes 1-5 and 14-18.
“[Dunsire] has gotten much better on the greens. He’s become all business when on the golf course not just during the round, but in preparation leading into events,” Carlson said.
In the current Heide Wealth Management point standings, Less has a controlling grip on the top position with a total of 60.50 points through five events. Dunsire is the current runner-up with 48.00 points and Nilsen sits in third with 36.00 points. Graduate student Russell Matos sits just a half point off the podium at 35.50.
The Heide Wealth Management Intra-squad series wraps up over three days starting Friday when the Huskies will compete in the Wilson Golf Tour Championship. The format for the three-round event will be a mixture of two-man best ball and traditional stroke play.
The championship will tee off Friday beginning at 1:40 p.m. at the Glen Club in Glenview, where the round will be a traditional stroke-play format. From the Glen Club, the team will travel to compete Saturday, at White Eagle Golf Club in Naperville and play with White Eagle members and executives of Wilson Golf in a best-ball format. The championship will conclude Sunday at the team’s home course of Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove where 18-holes of stroke play round out the championship. At the conclusion of Sunday’s event, the team will have crowned a champion not just of the weekend event, but of the fall season’s points race.