April 15, 2014
By Tom Weber
The Southern Illinois University men's golf team narrowly missed claiming its first tournament title of the season, finishing second to UT Martin at the TSU Big Blue Intercollegiate in Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday.
The Salukis shot a three-round team score of 875 at the par-72, 7,158-yard Hermitage Golf Club, just five strokes behind the Skyhawks. Head coach Leroy Newton said this was their best performance of the spring.
"We played excellent yesterday and didn't play quite as well as we wanted to today, but the weather had a lot to do with that," he said. "The course was much harder today with cold, rainy and windy conditions."
SIU senior Caleb Harms finished second overall among 83 golfers and posted a career-best tournament score of 215 (-1 under par). Harms shot back-to-back 69s in the first two rounds, but carded a 77 today as only one golfer in the entire field shot below par. Harms finished among the top 10 at a three-round tournament for the first time in his Saluki career.
"He got off to bad start today and double bogeyed the last hole, or else he could have won the tournament," Newton said. "Still, there were enough good players here that he should be tickled to get second place."
Teammate Wade Thompson also recorded his first top-10 finish by placing eighth at 2-over par. The biggest surprise of the tournament for SIU was the performance of Andrew Mitchell, who claimed 12th place at 4-over. In his only other tournament appearance this spring, he finished 92nd at the ASU Red Wolf Intercollegiate.
"It's a big deal for us that Andrew stepped in and played like he did," Newton said. "Other guys have been edging him out on qualifying, but now he's playing up to his potential."
The Salukis won this same tournament a year ago and used it as a springboard to a third-place finish at the MVC Championships two weeks later. Newton hopes the team gets a similar boost out of this year's strong performance heading into the conference championships on April 28-29 in Silvis, Ill.
"I always thought we were better than what we were showing, but we didn't have a chance to prove it with all the bad weather we've had this spring," Newton explained. "We've had a little break in the weather at home and gotten to play outside, and I think the kids feel they can play with just about anybody."
SIU Individual Scores
1 UT Martin 285 281 304 870 +6
2 Southern Illinois 290 278 307 875 +11
3 Belmont 289 292 303 884 +20
4 Missouri State 295 286 304 885 +21
5 South Dakota 286 290 311 887 +23
6 Alabama State 295 293 301 889 +25
7 Murray State 294 292 307 893 +29
8 Trevecca Nazarene 296 294 311 901 +37
9 Tennessee State 291 301 312 904 +40
10 Christian Brothers 298 295 312 905 +41
11 John A. Logan 303 296 312 911 +47
12 Eastern Illinois 297 302 318 917 +53
13 Morehead State 311 302 306 919 +55
14 Creighton 316 297 310 923 +59