Sophomore golfer Johnny Watts gets ready to tee off on the par-3 16th hole at Delaware Country Club in the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational. Watts finished the tournament in a three-way tie for the second place while the Cardinals won the team title. DN PHOTO COLIN GRYLLS
PREVIEW: Ball State men's golf hosts Earl Yestingsmeier Memorial Invitational
Ball State men's golf hosts the Earl Yestingsmeier Memorial Invitational this weekend, its only home tournament of the season.
The tournament will be played at the Delaware Country Club, the course where the Cardinals practice.
"The guys get to stay at home, they're playing at a golf course that they're pretty familiar with because we're out here on almost an everyday basis," head coach Mike Fleck said. "But other than that, it's just like any other tournament. It's competitive, there's a good, solid field of teams and players that are going to be here."
Delaware Country Club course breakdown
Golf courses are split between the front nine and back nine, but Ball State men's golf head coach Mike Fleck said he thinks the middle six holes, eight through 13, will likely be the pivotal stretch in the Earl Yestingsmeier Memorial Invitational.
"It's a good stretch of solid holes with a couple of lengthy Par 4s in 10 and 12 and the guys are just going to have to drive the ball pretty straight and get it on the green in regulation in that stretch of holes and make sure they limit their mistakes. And if they do that, I like their chances."
Wiseman said hole 12 in particular could be difficult. The 424-yard (from the Gold tees) Par 4 demands a straight, accurate shot off the tee and is listed as the no. 1 handicap hole on the Delaware Country Club's website.
"Number 12 always stands out to me," Wiseman said. "It's just a very tight hole, you've got out of bounds right and then tree-line down the left side and the fairway's narrow."
Sophomore Timothy Wiseman said the challenge is to not make too much out of playing at home.
"We're used to it out here," Wiseman said. "We play so many different courses that we try to take the same mindset into every tournament. We just have a little bit of an advantage [because] it's our home course."
Wiseman has the Cardinals' second-lowest average round score this season (73.83) and led Ball State in its last two tournaments. Fleck said Wiseman's recent run of success is the result of a mental shift.
"I think last year as a freshman, he was getting acclimated," Fleck said. "This year as a sophomore, not that he didn't want it last year, but he wants to win and he's doing everything he can to put himself in the best position every weekend."
Junior Johnny Watts has the Cardinals' best average score (73.00) this season and tied for second at last year's Yestingsmeier Invitational, which Ball State won. Watts, Wiseman, junior Michael VanDeventer and junior Michael Makris make up "a core group of four guys," Fleck said, but redshirt junior Keegan McKinney, who also tied for second at last year's Yestingsmeier Invitational, is out with an injury.
The tournament will be a six-count-five event, meaning six golfers play for each team with the top five scores counting toward the standings. With McKinney out, redshirt sophomore Colin Proctor and freshman Blake Vise will be in the lineup.
"We've got two guys in Proctor and Vise that are going to be in the lineup that just don't have a lot of experience and, honestly, they're going to have to step up and play this week if we want to do well as a team," Fleck said.
Twelve teams are making the trip to Muncie for the tournament: Butler, Cleveland State, Dayton, Eastern Kentucky, Fort Wayne, IUPUI, Loyola-Chicago, Northern Kentucky, Taylor, Valparaiso, Wright State and Youngstown State. Michigan State will also have golfers compete as individuals but won't compete as a team.
Cleveland State finished second in last year's tournament, and Wright State senior Ryan Wenzler was the only individual to top Watts and McKinney.
"It's going to be a field where we just can't assume we're going to do well," Fleck said.
The first two rounds of the tournament begin with a shotgun start 9 a.m. Friday, with the Cardinals starting on holes 1-5. The final round of the 54-hole tournament begins 8 a.m. Saturday.