Trailing by seven strokes, the men's golf team only had 18 holes to defeat then-leader University of Toledo. By shooting 12 strokes less than Toledo in the final round on Tuesday, Ball State won its first tournament of the Fall season.
The Cardinals shot a tournament round low of 291 in final round to win the 17-team Dayton Flyer Invitational at the National Cash Register Club in Dayton, Ohio.
"It was a really good day," coach Mike Fleck said. "The expectation coming into the even was to compete for a win. We felt like we were one of the best teams in the field and we played well. We were seven strokes back, but we knew if we put a lower number than 293 on the board we would have a chance to win and we did just that."
Junior Eric Steger led Ball State with a second place finish. Steger carded a 72-71 on the par-71 7,055-yard course. The runner-up finish was the second straight for Steger, who also placed second at the Cincinnati Bearcat Invitational Oct. 12-13.
"It's really cool that we won," Steger said. "We didn't play well in the first round, but we tried our hardest and we ended up winning. So, it feels good."
Ball State defeated two other Mid-American Conference opponents. The Cardinals beat Bowling Green State University and Ohio University by 8 strokes and 12 strokes, respectively.
"We have been close to winning a couple of times this season," Fleck said. "We have experienced both ends of the spectrum. We have gotten off to slow starts and we have also not finished well either. This week, however, we were able to be competitive and get a win. It's definitely gratifying."
Senior Ross Cosat tied for fifth individually. Cosat managed a 77-72 for a score of 149.
"This has been a long time coming," Cosat said. "It's awesome. It's nice to see coming from behind that we can grind it out and get the job done when we have to. It will serve us well in the weeks to come."
Sophomore Zac Henderson, who competed as an individual, finished third among all golfers. Henderson shot a 73-74, but his score did not count to the team's result.
Ball State has one more tournament before the completion of its Fall schedule. Fleck hopes to see his players continue to work hard before heading into the off-season.
"It's hard to win college tournaments," Fleck said. "We just need to continue to work. We have a team capable of being successful and this win reinforces that idea. We have played in five tournaments thus far and we haven't started well in most of them. We were lucky to put a good number on the course and finish the way we did."
Cosat was excited that he and his teammates were able to put themselves in position to win a tournament in the final round.
"We have always been a slow squad getting out of the gate, but we knew we could come back in the final round and we were able to do that," Cosat said. "In a 36-hole tournament you can't make up for your mistakes like you can in a 54-hole tournament. This win shows that we can compete with a lot of schools and that we can also beat those schools."