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Cinderella looks good to Leathernecks

By JEFF RUDE
Senior writer

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Western Illinois came to the NCAA Central Regional ranked No. 154 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and had a 0-32 record against top-100 teams. That was on paper, anyway. Thing is, the tournament is being played on grass.

Playing in a northerly wind that gusted to 30 mph on a difficult Rich Harvest Links, the senior-dominated Leathernecks turned in one of the big surprises of the 54-hole regional’s first round. They shot the second-lowest score in the 12-team morning wave. Their 25-over-par 313 was second only to Baylor’s 309.

Here’s how hard it was: Oklahoma State’s Pablo Martin, recent winner on the PGA European Tour, bogeyed five of his first eight holes. SMU star Colt Knost shot 83. Two Sienna players went par-less on the front nine.

“That tells you a lot right there,” said WIU coach Mel Blasi.

So did the score of the players representing the 13,000-student school in Macomb, Ill. While many players struggled in the more difficult morning conditions, WIU No. 1 Tim Streng (72.5 scoring average) shot 74 despite a short-game bogey on his final hole, the par-5 ninth. Others counting were fellow WIU seniors Ben Hermes (78), Zach Guthrie (80) and redshirt freshman Brian Scott (81).

Western was only 7 over par its first nine, the back, largely because it kept the ball in play. Hermes chipped in for birdie on 13. Guthrie shot even on the opening nine. A good start is especially important in high wind on a hard course with fast greens (12 on the Stimpmeter) because, as Blasi said, “when things go bad here, they can really go bad.”

Though an underdog, good golf is nothing new to WIU. They rose to 62nd in the rankings last year. The four seniors have played in three NCAA regionals before. They’ve played in top tournaments, from Northwestern’s to one in Pinehurst, N.C.

“We’ve been a feel-good story for a couple of years,” Blasi said. “Our guys know what to expect. We know how to turn double bogeys into bogeys and bogeys into pars.”

Blasi likens his underdog team to one “without a 7-footer” in the NCAA basketball tournament. No one has to tell Blasi that his team is overmatched in terms of scholarship support. He says he has two scholarships to give, and he figures the vast majority of the 27 teams in the field are fully funded.

“But you wouldn’t know it,” he said. “We have players who can compete.”

Western’s goal, of course, is to finish among the top 10 here and reach the NCAA finals for the first time. The team is nothing if not confident because it came here having won its last three tournaments, including the Mid-Continent Conference against three schools ranked higher – Oral Roberts, Missouri-Kansas City and Southern Utah.

Guthrie’s resurgence is a big reason for the late charge. He averaged 72.7 last year as a junior but often struggled to break 80 this year. He reconnected with a former swing coach who teaches the so-called one-plane swing and suddenly found the fairway and his game again.

“I’m happy with what we did today,” Blasi said. “I just want to have a chance (to qualify for the NCAA finals). It’d be a great thing for Western Illinois.”

Short shots: What are the Las Vegas odds on this? At mid-afternoon, Louisville twins Daryl and Derek Fathauer were 1-2 on the leaderboard. Daryl was 3 under though 10 and Derek 1 under through nine at the time.

• Rich Harvest Links owner Jerry Rich has a multimillion-dollarcollection of vintage, classic and exotic automobiles – includingRolls-Royces, Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in his on-course museum.Seventy of his 80 are displayed. Plus the large room includes asentimental Tilt-A-Whirl. Rich, one of amateur golf’s biggestsupporters, put it in the museum because it was his wife’s favoriteride from their days of going to amusement parks together.

• Southeastern Louisiana senior Brett Bergeron was disqualified for using a range finder on the second hole. Rules disallow such aids.

• Here’s the skinny on the two Siena players who went par-less on the front: Dennis Gosier (87) made four doubles, four bogeys and two birdies. Allen Parker (91) made seven bogeys, a triple bogey and a birdie.

• Alabama junior Gator Todd, son of former NFL and Alabama quarterback Richard Todd, got his nickname from an aunt referring to his thrashing and squirming as a baby during diaper changes.

• Oklahoma State’s Ryan Posey got off to a sickening start. He made a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 second hole, then followed that with a bogey.

• SMU’s Knost, who contended through 36 holes at last month’s EDS Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA Tour, not only had a bad start, he played with his sweatshirt turned inside-out because commercial logos are not allowed. Knost tied for first in the Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate here in the fall.

• Tennessee made a last-minute lineup change because of injury. Freshman David Holmes filled in for junior Jonathan Mount.

• Texas Southern freshman Richardo Davis withdrew after 10 holes because of a back injury. Despite the withdrawal, he is eligible to play the final two rounds.

• Triplets Brent, Luke and Danielle Anderson of Seneca, Ill., formed the bulk of the scoring operation at the NCAA Central Regional.

• Three Northern Illinois University assistant basketball coaches worked as volunteers. They radioed in scores from the course during Round 1.

• • •

Jeff Rude is a senior writer for Golfweek. You can email him at [email protected]

Scores with relation to par from the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Central Regional, played May 17 at the par-72, 7,214-yard Rich Harvest Farms (Gold/Silver) in Sugar Grove, Ill. (Note: y-played as individual):

TEAMS

1. Louisville 294
+ 6 2. Wisconsin 303
+ 15 2. Texas 303
+ 15 4. Tulsa 305
+ 17 5. Oklahoma State 306
+ 18 6. Alabama 309
+ 21 6. Baylor 309
+ 21 8. Lamar 313
+ 25 8. Western Illinois 313
+ 25 8. Kansas 313
+ 25 11. Minnesota 314
+ 26 11. Tennessee 314
+ 26 13. Colorado 315
+ 27 13. Texas Tech 315
+ 27 15. Northwestern 316
+ 28 16. Illinois State 317
+ 29 16. SMU 317
+ 29 18. Southeastern La. 319
+ 31 18. Michigan State 319
+ 31 18. Nebraska 319
+ 31 21. Texas A&M 320
+ 32 21. Purdue 320
+ 32 21. Oklahoma 320
+ 32 24. Wichita State 331
+ 43 25. TCU 332
+ 44 26. Siena College 351
+ 63 27. Texas Southern 357
+ 69

INDIVIDUALS

1. Derek Fathauer, Louisville 70

-2 2. Daryl Fathauer, Louisville 71

-1 2. Brett Myers, Tulsa 71

-1 2. Dawie Van Der Walt, Lamar 71

-1 5. Jhonattan Vegas, Texas 72

E 6. Bronson Burgoon, Texas A&M 73
+ 1 6. Chase Thomas, Baylor 73
+ 1 6. Chris Wilson, Northwestern 73
+ 1 6. Dan Woltman, Wisconsin 73
+ 1 10. Matt Carvell, Southeastern La. 74
+ 2 10. Adam Hadwin, Louisville 74
+ 2 10. Bronson LaCassie, Minnesota 74
+ 2 10. y-Andrew Landry, Arkansas 74
+ 2 10. Matt Miller, Illinois State 74
+ 2 10. Scott Sikes, SMU 74
+ 2 10. Tim Streng, Western Illinois 74
+ 2 10. J.J. Wood, Oklahoma 74
+ 2 18. Oscar Floren, Texas Tech 75
+ 3 18. Matt Harmon, Michigan State 75
+ 3 18. Charlie Holland, Texas 75
+ 3 18. Jeff Kaiser, Wisconsin 75
+ 3 18. Tyler Leon, Oklahoma State 75
+ 3 18. Jonathan Moore, Oklahoma State 75
+ 3 18. Peter Richardson, Purdue 75
+ 3 25. Chris Bruening, Nebraska 76
+ 4 25. Pat Duffy, Wisconsin 76
+ 4 25. Charles Ford, Tennessee 76
+ 4 25. Pat Grady, Colorado 76
+ 4 25. Brady Schnell, Nebraska 76
+ 4 25. Jesse Speirs, TCU 76
+ 4 25. Matthew Swan, Alabama 76
+ 4 25. y-Mauricio Tamez, Oral Roberts 76
+ 4 25. Gator Todd, Alabama 76
+ 4 25. Gary Woodland, Kansas 76
+ 4 35. Jeremy Alcorn, Baylor 77
+ 5 35. Tyler Docking, Kansas 77
+ 5 35. Mark Harrell, Alabama 77
+ 5 35. Ryan Henry, Tulsa 77
+ 5 35. Trent Leon, Oklahoma State 77
+ 5 35. Lance Lopez, Texas 77
+ 5 35. Tom Oliver, Purdue 77
+ 5 35. Derek Tolan, Colorado 77
+ 5 43. Jeremy Frye, Baylor 78
+ 6 43. Will Griffin, Texas Tech 78
+ 6 43. Ben Hermes, Western Illinois 78
+ 6 43. y-Jason Kokrak, Xavier 78
+ 6 43. Sam Korbe, Tulsa 78
+ 6 43. Joey Mundy, Kansas 78
+ 6 43. y-Mike Van Sickle, Marquette 78
+ 6 43. Tino Weiss, Tennessee 78
+ 6 51. Victor Almstrom, Minnesota 79
+ 7 51. Matt Bortis, Texas 79
+ 7 51. Mitch Cohlmia, Tulsa 79
+ 7 51. Dan Doyle, Northwestern 79
+ 7 51. Nicolas Geyger, Tulsa 79
+ 7 51. Garrett Jones, Wisconsin 79
+ 7 51. Pablo Martin, Oklahoma State 79
+ 7 51. Drew Miller, Illinois State 79
+ 7 51. Adam Rainaud, Louisville 79
+ 7 51. Luke Symons, Colorado 79
+ 7 61. Scott Barton, SMU 80
+ 8 61. Zach Guthrie, Western Illinois 80
+ 8 61. y-Jordan Irwin, Houston 80
+ 8 61. Hugo Leon, Southeastern La. 80
+ 8 61. Draegen Majors, SMU 80
+ 8 61. Garrett Merrell, Texas Tech 80
+ 8 61. Jack Newman, Michigan State 80
+ 8 61. Tyler Obermueller, Wisconsin 80
+ 8 61. Chris Paisley, Tennessee 80
+ 8 61. Philip Pettitt, Tennessee 80
+ 8 61. Austin Schauer, Texas A&M 80
+ 8 61. Dusty Smith, Lamar 80
+ 8 61. Ryan Spears, Wichita State 80
+ 8 61. Joseph Sykora, Alabama 80
+ 8 61. Niall Turner, Minnesota 80
+ 8 76. Tommy Bliefnick, Illinois State 81
+ 9 76. Phillip Bryan, Oklahoma 81
+ 9 76. Casey Clendenon, Lamar 81
+ 9 76. Justin Harding, Lamar 81
+ 9 76. Aaron O'Callaghan, Southeastern La. 81
+ 9 76. Ben Pisani, Minnesota 81
+ 9 76. Ryan Posey, Oklahoma State 81
+ 9 76. Brian Scott, Western Illinois 81
+ 9 76. Nick Sheedy, Oklahoma 81
+ 9 76. Grant Tungate, Michigan State 81
+ 9 76. Wes Williams, Baylor 81
+ 9 87. Oliver Bekker, Lamar 82
+ 10 87. Jonathan Bowers, Northwestern 82
+ 10 87. y-Jorge Campillo, Indiana 82
+ 10 87. Jamie Marshall, Nebraska 82
+ 10 87. Barrett Martens, Kansas 82
+ 10 87. Connor McHenry, Wichita State 82
+ 10 87. David Merkow, Northwestern 82
+ 10 87. Kyle Moore, Northwestern 82
+ 10 87. Kevin Schultz, Texas 82
+ 10 87. Jacob Scriven, Texas Southern 82
+ 10 87. Matt Smith, Texas Tech 82
+ 10 98. Ryan Brehm, Michigan State 83
+ 11 98. Joe Emerich, Illinois State 83
+ 11 98. Robert Gates, Jr., Texas A&M 83
+ 11 98. Pariya Junhasavasdikul, Purdue 83
+ 11 98. Colt Knost, SMU 83
+ 11 98. Nick Kwaterski, Western Illinois 83
+ 11 98. Blake Moore, Colorado 83
+ 11 98. Robby Ormand, TCU 83
+ 11 98. Michael Thompson, Alabama 83
+ 11 107. Michael Baird, Colorado 84
+ 12 107. Cameron Bishop, Wichita State 84
+ 12 107. Ben Blundell, Oklahoma 84
+ 12 107. Steve Cuzzort, Michigan State 84
+ 12 107. David Holmes, Tennessee 84
+ 12 107. Peter O'Keeffe, Southeastern La. 84
+ 12 107. Martin Piller, Texas A&M 84
+ 12 107. Clayton Rask, Minnesota 84
+ 12 107. Trey Todd, Texas A&M 84
+ 12 116. Bryan Bigley, Siena College 85
+ 13 116. Andrew Freeman, Louisville 85
+ 13 116. Dustin Garza, Wichita State 85
+ 13 116. Ryan Lenahan, Nebraska 85
+ 13 116. Vince Nadeau, Purdue 85
+ 13 116. Zach Potter, Wichita State 85
+ 13 116. Michael Randle, Purdue 85
+ 13 123. Ben Murphy, Illinois State 86
+ 14 123. Drew Stoltz, TCU 86
+ 14 125. Bill Allcorn, Baylor 87
+ 15 125. Ty Capps, Nebraska 87
+ 15 125. Dennis Gosier, Siena College 87
+ 15 125. Jon McLean, TCU 87
+ 15 125. Santiago Rivas, Texas Tech 87
+ 15 125. Jesse Schutte, Oklahoma 87
+ 15 125. Travis Woolf, TCU 87
+ 15 132. Dan Abbondandolo, Siena College 88
+ 16 132. Frank Wrenn, IV, SMU 88
+ 16 134. Devon Robinson, Texas Southern 90
+ 18 134. John Thornton, Texas Southern 90
+ 18 136. Allen Parker, Siena College 91
+ 19 137. Walt Koelbel, Kansas 92
+ 20 138. Corey Woodard, Texas Southern 95
+ 23 139. Alex Arrigo, Siena College 98
+ 26 DQ. Brett Bergeron, Southeastern La.

WD. Riccardo Davis, Texas Southern

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