Cardinals tie for 4th of 18 teams

Score of 298 marks lowest opening round score of spring season.

In what head coach Mike Fleck called the most competitive meet of the spring, the men's golf team tied for fourth out of 18 teams in the Johnny Owens Invitational Friday and Saturday.

The team shot its two lowest rounds, 290 and 284, and its lowest opening round score, 298, of the spring in the invitational hosted by the University of Kentucky. Fleck called the Cardinals' third-round 284 one of their better ones this season.

"We wanted consistency and we got it," Fleck said. "We had a steady performance from start to finish."

One of Ball State's toughest opponents in the tournament was the weather. Severe thunder and lightning stopped play five or six holes into the second round on Friday. After a two-hour fog delay on Saturday morning, the teams picked up where they left off.

The Cardinals' three-round total of 872 was their second lowest of the year and their lowest since their first meet of the fall, the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational Sept. 22-23.

Fleck said the weather allowed his team, and the entire field at the event, to shoot lower scores each round. Because they were rushed the second day, Kentucky officials did not have time to change the pin placements and tee markers on the course.

"Because it was the same course all three rounds, we got comfortable with how it played and the setup of the course," Fleck said.

Senior co-captain Nathan Vannatter said the team's play should give it confidence and momentum heading into the Marshall Invitational this Friday and Saturday.

"We're picking up the pace," Vannatter said. "We're starting to understand where we're capable of competing."

Ball State finished ahead of the other four Mid-American Conference schools at the invitational - Akron, Marshall, Miami and Ohio. Miami was closest, finishing in ninth place, 14 strokes behind the Cardinals.

Fleck said beating the conference schools was important because almost all MAC teams will be competing in the Marshall Invitational.

"We're going to see the same schools (at Marshall) that we're going to see in May for the MAC Championship, so it's a big tournament for us," Fleck said.


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