NIU men’s golf struggles at Purdue

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Wes Sanderson | Northern Star

Freshman Ben Sluzas hits an approach shot into the par-5 2nd hole at Rich Harvest Farms during the second-round of the Rich Harvest Intercollegiate on Oct. 2. Sluzas finished T-31 at the Boilermaker Invitational.

Skyler Kisellus, Assistant Sports Editor

DeKALB — Men’s golf finished in 11th place Tuesday at the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The Huskies completed the tournament with a score 29-over par, 893, on the 54-hole course. Their par count of 29-over put them 16 strokes ahead of Ball State University, who finished in last place.

In their lowest finishing performance since the season opener at the Marquette Intercollegiate, the Huskies struggled with their driving ability and certain holes on Purdue University’s golf course.

“We didn’t drive the ball nearly as well,” head coach John Carlson said. “Purdue has three difficult holes on the golf course. We didn’t handle those very well.”

Indiana University took home the team title after posting a team score of six-under par, 858, one stroke ahead of the tournament host and runner-up Purdue.

Purdue sophomore Herman Wibe Sikne’s 11-under par performance earned him first place individual honors once again, having also been the individual champion of the Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate on Oct. 4.

The Huskies’ starting lineup recorded eight birdies, ten bogeys, and two double bogeys to open the first day. After nine holes, NIU had a team score of one-over par, 145.

The Huskies ended the first round in seventh place and had two golfers place in the top five on the leaderboard after 18 holes. Senior Tommy Dunsire and freshman Ben Sluzas were tied for fifth, with Toledo freshman Jamie Tofte Nielsen at one-under par.

During the two days of tournament play, the elements made their presence known with conditions that were not ideal for golfers. Windy conditions and rainy weather on the course made it challenging for golfers.

“Weather always affects performance in golf,” Carlson said. “It also makes it a challenge. That’s why we all love the sport. Every team got challenged.”

After inclement weather postponed the second round to Tuesday, the Huskies struggled with their course management. By notching 29 bogeys in 18 holes, NIU fell four spots on the leaderboard to take 11th place. 

Sluzas encountered a rough patch during the second round, recording seven bogeys in an eight-hole stretch. The performance dropped him from tied for fifth to tied for 47th.

In the third and final round of the two-day event, NIU began strong with a birdie count which outnumbered its bogeys. The final nine of the event saw the tallies flip with the final hole resulting in bogeys for each of the starting five golfers. Scores of 306 and 291 ensured that NIU would maintain its 11th place position.

Of the 12 teams at the event, five were NIU’s rivals from the Mid-American Conference. The Huskies did battle with conference opponents Ball State, the University of Toledo, Eastern Michigan University, Kent State University and Miami University-Ohio.

For the second time this season, NIU did not have a competitor finish in the top ten on the leaderboard. Dunsire emerged as the frontrunner for the Huskies with a score of five-over par. The senior from Naperville finished in a five-way tie for 31st at the invitational.

In preparation for their upcoming contest, Carlson plans for the team to have a positive mentality based on their past performances.

“We played three really strong events out of four this fall,” Carlson said. “We’re going to fight hard all week.”

The Huskies will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, to participate in the Xavier Invitational at Maketewah Country Club. The event will begin Monday.