Playing in the first National Golf Invitational, Ball State Men’s Golf finished tied for fourth with their 859 score over three rounds. Sophomore Kash Bellar won the individual title with his 7-under-par performance over three rounds.
“It's about time I've had some really good opportunities to win this spring alone, I just didn't capitalize on and didn't take advantage of the final round,” Bellar said. “I think today I just proved to myself that I can be an elite player. That's the best way to show some other people and teams around the country that I am a pretty good player.”
The roster consisted of Bellar, graduate student Joey Ranieri, freshman Carter Smith, sophomore Ali Khan, and redshirt sophomore Griffin Hare.
Friday - Round One
Round one saw Hare post a team-best 4-under-par score of 68 with five birdies in his first round.
“I think he just was comfortable and was hitting a lot of quality golf shots,” head coach Mike Fleck said. “He obviously put up a super competitive score for us in round one.”
Bellar was second best with his 1-under-par 71 with Khan close behind with his 1-over-par 73.
Ranieri and Smith both posted a 2-over-par 74 in their first round.
Saturday - Round Two
Bellar not only led the team in round two but also the whole field with his low score of a 6-under-par 66. Bellar had five birdies and an eagle in his round.
Smith was second best with his even-par 72 followed by Khan who shot a 2-over-par 74.
Hare and Ranieri rounded out the Cardinals with their 3-over-par 75s.
Fleck told his guys before round three in a team meeting that the goal was to get to 12-under-par and try to fight for a win.
Sunday - Round Three
After switching out Hare for senior Evan Bone, Bone led the Cardinals in round three with his 2-under-par 70.
Ranieri was second best with his 1-under-par 71 followed by Bellar who posted an even-par 72, securing his individual title.
After taking a bogey on hole 17, Bellar knew he needed to get a birdie on 18 for the title. After his opponent put it in the water, he said he told Fleck it was time to make a putt for birdie. After talking it over with Fleck, the invitational winning 15-foot putt dropped, center cup.
Khan and Smith both finished with a 1-over-par 73.
“The thing with Kash is that when he's on, he's hard to beat,” Fleck said. “He was on quite a bit this week and it was fun to watch and I'm excited that he was able to birdie that last hole and and win the tournament. He's a gamer, he's going to be a pretty important person in our program.”
Even though the goal is to always win, Fleck is still proud of the Cardinals.
“I'm proud of the way that these guys fought and gave me everything again this week,” Fleck said. “We didn't come out here just to participate. We had a plan to try and win this thing and you know, we were close.”
Fleck said that over the spring the team has been memorable in the way they were able to play as hard as they could with their tougher schedule in the spring.
Bellar said that he thinks the team has proved to themselves that they are good enough, that they were close to winning the Mid-American Conference Championship and almost going to play in an NCAA Regional. He said he thinks next year could be a good year for Ball State.