DeKALB — The men’s golf team struggled at the Robert Kepler Invitational Saturday and Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, as a rough first round led to a 10th-place finish at 39-over-par.
Head Coach Tom Porten said the team struggled out of the gate with putting. The Huskies finished the tournament with the fewest pars in the field with only 139.
“It wasn’t anything ball-striking wise,” Porten said. “We had an awful start with the putter.”
In the first round, the team had a total of 23 bogeys and six double bogeys. Porten said the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club is one of the toughest courses the team plays.
“It’s the longest course we play in the spring,” Porten said. “Scarlet is one of the more demanding golf courses.”
As if the course and poor putting didn’t already put the Huskies at a disadvantage, a nagging wrist injury forced junior Paul Schlimm to leave the first round of play on his seventh hole. Schlimm did not compete in the final two rounds, finishing 11-over-par.
“He tried to play a couple holes, but his wrist got pretty sore, so we pulled him off,” Porten said.
The Huskies were able to bounce back with sophomore Jordan Less (75-71-69-215) picking up the team’s highest finish of the tournament, tying for eighth place at two-over-par.
Less picked up the top 10 finish despite shooting seven bogeys in the first nine holes of the first round. Porten said Less and the team were resilient this weekend.
“I thought they showed a lot of toughness the rest of the way,” Porten said. “Jordan was fantastic. After those first nine holes where he shot six-over-par, he played fantastic golf.”
Redshirt senior Joo-Young Lee (72-73-77 -222) was the team’s next highest finish, tying for 30th place as an individual.
The team will now look ahead to the Mid-American Conference Championships, where it hopes to capture its first conference title in NIU men’s golf since 1985.
Porten said the key to the title lies in the team’s ability to find consistency.
“We just have to be more consistent,” Porten said. “We’re doing well from tee to green. In terms of measurables, statistically we’re doing a lot of things right. We need to score with the putter. If you can’t play consistently for a 54 hole tournament, or in the case of the MAC, a 72 hole tournament, you’re going to lose.”
Porten said the team is eyeing to take down the top golf program in the MAC, the Kent State Golden Flashes, who have won eight of the last nine MAC Championships.
The tournament will start Saturday at the Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Indiana.