Junior Johnny Watts tied for eighth in the Firestone Invitational on Oct. 3 and 4, which was his sixth top-10 finish in his collegiate career. Watts leads the team in scoring average this season with a score of 73.00. Colin Grylls // DN File
Men's golf begins play at Fighting Irish Classic Sunday
Ball State's men's golf hits the road during Fall Break but will not have to leave the state.
The Cardinals play in the Fighting Irish Classic in South Bend starting Sunday.
The team is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Firestone Invitational. At Firestone, the Cardinals had two individual top-10 finishes. Junior Michael VanDeventer and Johnny Watts finished the tournament tied for fifth and tied for eighth respectively. VanDeventer had a final score of five-under-par 211, the best finish he has had in his college golf career.
What: Fighting Irish Classic
Where: South Bend, Indiana (Warren Golf Course)
When: October 9-11
Watts had an eagle on both days of the tournament and finished the tournament at four under par 212. His eighth place finish was his sixth top-10 finish in his collegiate career. Watts leads the team in scoring average this season with an average score of 73.00. He has had one top-10 finish and one top-20 finish this season as well as having two rounds in the 60s.
Head coach Mike Fleck, however, said there are areas of his game that he needs to improve on.
"For Johnny, it's continuing to work on his game," he said. "But his driving's been holding him back this fall."
Watts attributes his success this season so far to his mentality and hard work.
"My mentality is to go out there and have fun," he said. "I think that just having fun out there has taken a lot of pressure off me this season."
Watts said that Warren Golf Course won't be anything new, but the team shouldn't take that the course for granted.
"The biggest obstacle this week will probably be ourselves," he said. "Knowing everyone's good, we have just have to have fun and compete."
The Cardinals counted the scores from Van DeVenter and Watts in the final round as well as a 74 from Keegan Mckinney and a 77 from Michael Markis.
Markis' best finish this season was a tie for 23rd at the Inverness Collegiate tournament at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
The Cardinals placed tied for 10th out of 12 teams last year at the Fighting Irish Classic.
Fleck is happy with the team's play but expects the team to be more productive through the rest of the fall and into the spring.
"When we have a not-so-good round from one guy," he said. "We have to have the other four guys cover that up with good rounds because right now when we have a not so good round, it comes in pairs and it hurts us a little bit."
The Cardinals played at Warren Golf Course last year and Fleck said many of the players have experience from playing on the course during the summer.
"Couple of our guys have played the course because the the PGA hosts the PGA Qualifier events there," he said. "A lot of our players have played in summer tournaments there as well."
Fleck said that his expectations for the players will not change heading into the fourth tournament of this fall season.
"Our expectations are that we want we compete at the highest level and represent Ball State University," he said.
The Cardinals will be back on the course as they begin play at the Fighting Irish Classic in South Bend, Indiana at the Warren Golf Course Oct. 9. The tournament will conclude on Oct. 11.