Ball State wins Earl Yestingsmeier match play in first spring tournament

<p>Members of the Ball State Men&#x27;s Golf Team walk towards the fairway after teeing off from the second hole at the Earl Yestingmeier Invite Sep. 3 at the Delaware Country Club. Ball State started the day trailing Wright State by 5 strokes. Eli Houser, DN</p>

Members of the Ball State Men's Golf Team walk towards the fairway after teeing off from the second hole at the Earl Yestingmeier Invite Sep. 3 at the Delaware Country Club. Ball State started the day trailing Wright State by 5 strokes. Eli Houser, DN

The Ball State Men’s Golf team picked up a win in its first event of the spring season at the Earl Yestingmeier Match Play.

The Cardinals traveled down to Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Dade City, Florida. The five-person roster consisted of graduate student Joey Ranieri, sophomore Kash Bellar, redshirt sophomore Griffin Hare, redshirt sophomore Ali Khan, freshman Carter Smith and sophomore Colin Nasser. 

The tournament would be a match-play tournament. Where golfers are competing against one other golfer directly instead of on a leaderboard. To beat an opponent you just need to have the better score on a hole to go up, essentially playing each hole as one possible point. 

Even if it was in Florida, it is the only other tournament Ball State hosts except for a true home invitational here in Muncie at Delaware Country Club. 


“Coming out of the winter and playing in a match play event, you're able to make some mistakes and not have to count as stroke play rounds,” head coach Mike Fleck said. “In match play, you can bounce back pretty quickly if you have a bad hole or a bad couple of couple swings. You're competing against somebody head-to-head versus the golf course, which is kind of what we normally try to do in stroke play events. There's some strategy involved obviously, it gets the competitive juices flowing.”

Monday - Quarterfinals

Ball State opened up the tournament with a Mid-American Conference (MAC) opponent, Central Michigan. 

The most one-sided battle was between Nasser and Easton Phillips. Nasser was able to beat his opponent 6&5 (six up with five to play, making it impossible to win for Phillips). 

The second biggest win was from Bellar. He was able to beat Jeffrey Andrus 3&1. 

Smith and Ranieri both won their match 1 UP, and Hare tied his match. Khan was the only one to lose his match in the opening quarterfinal round. 

Monday - Semifinals

For the semifinal round, the Cardinals would face High Point. 

The winners included Smith who was able to win his match 4&3, Khan who won 3&1 and Ranieri who won 2&1. 

The losers were Bellar who lost 3&2, Hare lost 2&1 and Nasser lost 3&2. 

With three players winning, and three losing, Ball State was still able to advance in a tie-breaker. 

“Those guys battled on at the end trying to scratch out an additional hole or climb back into a match being down and not losing by as much as is hugely important in that tiebreaker,” Fleck said. “That's what allowed us to get past High Point was that we won some holes late both on the winning end and on the losing end. That helped us a ton.”

Tuesday - The Finals  

Ball State faced off against Drake in the championship battle, and it was just as close as the previous battle with High Point. 

Against Drake, there would be two winners, two losers and two ties. 

The winners were Hare who won 4&2 and Nasser who won 1 UP. 

The losers were Ranieri who lost 2&1 and Bellar who lost 3&1. 

The two ties came from Khan and Smith. 

“I think Carter [Smith] and Ali [Khan] tied the first handicap hole with Drake and then on the second one, Carter tied his kid and Ali beat his guy so we actually got the victory via Ali's victory on that second handicap hole, which was hole number 13,” Fleck said. “So yeah, like I said, pretty intense. A lot of suspense trying to figure that out at the end, going through the tie-breaking scenarios. It was cool that we were able to come out on top through that process.”

This is Ball State’s first win of the year, where its previous best of the season was second place at their home invitational in September. 

Fleck was very satisfied with the win, saying he hopes it gives the team some momentum and reinforces some of the things they have been working on this winter. 

The Cardinals will travel to Puerto Rico for their next tournament on Feb. 26-28 in the Dorado Beach Collegiate at the Dorado Beach Golf Club. 

“We played well in Puerto Rico last year,” Fleck said. “My hope is that we go down there with continued preparation the next couple of weeks and get ready for that one. Then kind of rolling to March and getting ready for Butler at the end of March. Then get geared up for that run in April that leads us to the MAC Championship.”

Contact Elijah Poe with comments at or on Twitter @ElijahPoe4.