The Oglethorpe men's golf team looked to be in good shape to at least make the cut, and perhaps to contend for a national championship, after finishing Round 1 tied for sixth Tuesday at the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, but it all came unraveled Wednesday afternoon on a windswept Las Colinas course at Mission Inn Resort and Club. The Stormy Petrels posted a 38-over-par 326 on the tournament's secondary course, dropping 17 spots down the leaderboard to 23rd place and missing the cut at a national tournament for the first time since 2013, and only the second time ever.
The back nine of the Petrels' round and the front nine of the Las Colinas course (the Petrels began their day on Hole 10) proved to be Oglethorpe's undoing. They played it in a combined 28 over par, which included a triple bogey, a quadruple bogey and a sextuple bogey, dealing with a difficult crosswind on the final few holes and a stiff breeze in their face for most of the afternoon.
Sophomore Jacob Arnett was the highest finisher among Petrels, both on the day and the week, posting a 5-over 77. He had an even-par day going, with three birdies on his front nine, but played 8-over on his back nine. He finished the tournament tied for 49th at nine over. Sophomore Kyle Shealy had a rough day after his outstanding opening round on El Campeon. He finished at 14-over 86 on the day and 13-over for the tournament, putting him in a tie for 95th, still in the top half of the field.
Sophomore Kenny Park earned three birdies, but also nine over-par holes and finished at 10-over 82 for the day and 14-over for the tournament. Sophomore Patrick Mills had a tough back nine, too, and finished with a 9-over 81 on the day and 15-over for the tournament. Junior Jeffrey Alexander rounded out the Oglethorpe scorecard on the day, posting a 16-over 88 to finish at 19-over for the tournament.
"This was an incredibly disappointing finish, to be sure," said Oglethorpe director of golf Jim Owen. "The wind made things very difficult, especially on the final few holes, and we didn't handle it well. It seemed like missing the cut wasn't reallly even a remote possibility with everybody on the back nine of their round, but things can turn very quickly in a tournament with a field this impressive. All we can do is use this as a learning experience and build from it next year."
Oglethorpe is hosting this year's NCAA Division III Championship in conjunction with the Central Florida Sports Commission and Mission Inn. It marks the third time the three have collaborated to host the event, with the other two coming in 2005 and 2012.
First Round Recap
The Oglethorpe men's golf team enjoyed a solid first day at the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship at Mission Inn Resort and Club Tuesday in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. They fired a 10-over-par 298 on the difficult El Campeon course to put themselves in a tie for sixth place, just five strokes back of leader Huntingdon. With the round, the Stormy Petrels put themselves in good position heading into Wednesday's second round on the marginally easier Las Colinas course.
The Petrels were led on the day by sophomore Kyle Shealy, who put together a very impressive 1-under 71. The round included an eagle on the 14th hole and a pair of birdies on the 10th and 13th, putting him just two strokes back of the individual leader, Huntingdon's Addison Lambeth.
Junior Jeffrey Alexander enjoyed a very good back nine on Tuesday morning, putting up three birdies between Holes 10 and 15, including back-to-back on 14 and 15. That allowed him to finish at 3-over 75 for the day, putting him in a tie for 39th, six strokes back. Sophomore Jacob Arnett and freshman Kenny Park both shot 4-over 76 on the morning. Arnett posted a pair of birdies on the back nine, while Park parred 12 of the 18 holes. They sit tied for 53rd, seven back.
Sophomore Patrick Mills rounded out the Oglethorpe scorecard with a 6-over 78 on the day. That mark meant that all five Petrels finished the day in the top half of the individual field. Mills sits 92nd in the massive 215-player field, nine strokes back.
Top-ranked Huntingdon holds the 18-hole lead, with Rhodes, Texas-Tyler and LaGrange all tied for second, three strokes back. Christopher Newport sits fifth at four back, while the Petrels are tied with Wittenberg for sixth. Washington and Lee, Guilford and Greensboro round out the top 10 after Day 1.
The Petrels will take to the Las Colinas course at Mission Inn Wednesday afternoon starting at 12:50 p.m., with Mills the last to tee off at 1:30. Oglethorpe will look to move up the leaderboard to put themselves in good position for the final two rounds Thursday and Friday. After Wednesday's second round, the field will be cut to 18 teams and the top six individuals not on those teams.
Oglethorpe is co-hosting the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship with the Central Florida Sports Commission, marking the third time the two organizations have combined to host the event at Mission Inn. The other two came in 2005 and 2012.