Archive

Notes: MTSU romps to Ron Smith title

By STEVE HARMON
Deputy Editor

DADE CITY, Fla. – Middle Tennessee State is playing with an attitude this spring, and the strategy is working.

The Blue Raiders, ranked No. 67, posted their second consecutive tournament victory, winning the Ron Smith/USF Invitational on March 2 by 14 shots with a 6-under 858 score at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club.

“Our No. 1 goal is to make the NCAA tournament,’’ coach Whit Turnbow said. “If we happen to win the (Sun Belt) conference along the way, then so be it.’’

Turnbow is in his first season as head coach of the Blue Raiders, but his ties to the school in Murfreesboro, just east of Nashville, are deep. He earned four letters in golf at MTSU and then served the past five years as an assistant to longtime MTSU coach Johnny Moore, who resigned after the spring season.

“My guys are playing with a chip on their shoulders,’’ Turnbow conceded, “and sometimes that can be a good thing.’’

MTSU lost in a playoff to Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament last spring. From the Sun Belt, only Lafayette got an NCAA berth.

“Last year, we got hosed,’’ Turnbow said. "You can print that. We were ranked 47th and didn't get in.’’

Turnbow has a solid team this spring, with no seniors. Sophomore Kent Bulle of Glasgow, Ky., shot 4-under 212 to tie for second and lead a balanced MTSU lineup at Lake Jovita. Chas Narramore (T-7 at 214) and Craig Smith (T-9 at 215) also made the top 10.

“We're getting better every week,’’ Turnbow said. “If it's possible to have a young, experienced team, I've got one. They're young by age, but they've played a lot of tournament golf. All five can play, and all five are solid. They're all always in the game. I never look up and see somebody is 9 over. That's relaxing for a coach.’’

MTSU opened the spring with a fifth-place finish in the GADO North Texas
Classic at Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. The Blue Raiders followed with a victory in the 12-team All-American Golf Classic in Spring, Texas.

VAN SICKLE REPEATS: Marquette’s Mike Van Sickle, shaking the Wisconsin winter from his game in his first event of the season, overcame a horrid start to successfully defend his individual title at the USF event.

“One of the biggest question marks every spring, you go to the dome and hit balls inside, but you're just not sure how it's going to add up when you get out on the course,’’ Van Sickle said March 2 after his victory. “It's just very satisfying.’’

Van Sickle, 21, a solidly built 6-foot, 190-pound junior from Wexford, Pa., shot 72-67-69–208 for an 8-under total and four-shot victory.

However, five holes into his spring debut, he was searching for answers.

“My goal coming into the week was to play smart, solid golf and keep the ball below the hole,’’ Van Sickle said, noting Lake Jovita’s slick, sloping greens. “I was 4 over through five and doing completely the opposite. But my swing came together on the back nine that first day.’’

Van Sickle found his game to play his last 13 holes 4 under and then scorched Lake Jovita on the weekend rounds, going 8 under combined.

Van Sickle, a broadcast communications major, earned one of six at-large berths in last year’s NCAA Central Regional. He averaged 71.91 and was an honorable mention All-American.

Coach Tim Grogan puts Van Sickle among the best ball-strikers in the college game.

“He compresses the ball so well,’’ said Grogan, in his 16th season with the Golden Eagles. “He does have room to improve, and he knows it. He has a bright future. He works really hard.’’

ESCAPING THE SNOW: Xavier’s preparation for its spring opener at USF included an unusual long-drive contest: 90 miles south from its Cincinnati campus through a snowstorm to Lexington, Ky., in a quest to find a playable course.

“We drove through a blizzard to get to Lexington,” coach Doug Steiner said. “Twenty miles from the course, it cleared off. It was 32 degrees when we teed off. That was our qualifier.”

Round 1 at Lake Jovita was delayed two hours because of frost on the greens. The Musketeers weren’t complaining. In fact, they probably felt right at home. The rest of the weekend was sunny and mid-70s.

PLAYING SHORTHANDED: Rhode Island, playing its spring opener here, was forced to start with another handicap besides a rusty game.

No. 2 player Jarryd Dillas, waking about 12:30 a.m. Friday to use the bathroom, stepped on a glass tumbler left on the floor of the team villa and cut his left foot, requiring stitches at a nearby hospital. Dillas, a senior from Sandys, Bermuda, was treated with antibiotics and painkillers before being released, assistant coach Ralph Groves said.

Dillas was held out of all three rounds, and the Rams were forced to count their remaining four scorers each day.

Coach Tom Drennan, recalling Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in Game 2 of the 2004 World Series, kept a lid on Dillas’ eagerness to play through the injury.

“What we don’t want is another New England Schilling,” Drennan said. “It puts a lot of pressure on our remaining players, and they’ve had no course time.”

Mark Stevens, a junior finance major from Concord, N.H., led the Rams with an even-par 216 to finish T-12. “It’s motivating,” Stevens said of the four-man lineup, because it leaves no margin for error.

RESORT LIVING: At Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club, resort living is part of the sales pitch.

Competitors in the Ron Smith/USF Invitational got to play the part, if only for a few days. The 90 competitors and their coaches stayed in villas set steps off the 18th green, adjacent to the practice range. The praise was unanimous.

“It’s the best setup we have all year,” Austin Peay coach Kirk Kayden said.

For years, USF had hosted its annual spring event at The Claw, the university’s course on the north side of its Tampa campus. However, USF coach Jim Fee moved off campus in recent years and has no regrets.

“It allows us to get a stronger field,” Fee said.

BULLISH OUTLOOK: Fee, in his 11th season as coach at South Florida, has honed the art of networking. Fee, who runs the annual Ron Smith/USF Invitational while simultaneously guiding his Bulls on the course, conducts a “celebrity” tournament after the first round. The opposing coaches in the 18-team field provide plenty of help by being paired as celebrity guests in the field, with former USF players and other school boosters. It has been a huge hit, Fee says. The tournament proceeds go a long way toward helping Fee and the Bulls play a big-time schedule.

• • •

Steve Harmon is Golfweek’s deputy editor. To reach him e-mail [email protected]

Scores with relation to par from the final round of the Ron Smith/USF Invitational, played Feb. 29-March 2 at the par-72, 7,084-yard Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City, Fla. (y-played as individual):

TEAM SCORES

1. Middle Tennessee State 287-280-291–858

-6 2. Florida Southern 296-292-284–872
+ 8 2. Marquette 297-288-287–872
+ 8 4. SE Louisiana 293-284-298–875
+ 11 5. De Paul 296-292-289–877
+ 13 6. Eastern Michigan 301-292-289–882
+ 18 7. South Florida 294-293-296–883
+ 19 8. Va. Commonwealth 291-296-297–884
+ 20 9. Columbus State 301-284-303–888
+ 24 10. Jacksonville State 299-284-306–889
+ 25 10. Missouri 301-297-291–889
+ 25 10. Troy University 303-285-301–889
+ 25 13. Texas-San Antonio 298-291-301–890
+ 26 14. Austin Peay State 303-289-301–893
+ 29 15. Arkansas State 300-297-303–900
+ 36 16. Xavier 302-299-300–901
+ 37 17. Rhode Island 304-293-309–906
+ 42 18. Nebraska 305-302-307–914
+ 50

INDIVIDUAL SCORES

1. Mike Van Sickle, Marquette 72-67-69–208

-8 2. Julian Colmenares, J’ville St 71-66-75–212

-4 2. Kent Bulle, M. Tenn St 70-70-72–212

-4 2. Lloyd du Preez, Ark. St. 73-68-71–212

-4 5. Graham Benson, S.E. La. 73-68-72–213

-3 5. JP van der Walt, CSU 70-71-72–213

-3 7. Chas Narramore, M. Tenn St 71-71-72–214

-2 7. Michael McGrady, Troy 73-67-74–214

-2 9. Andrew Georgiou, CSU 76-67-72–215

-1 9. Craig Smith, M. Tenn St 72-69-74–215

-1 9. Tyler Hitchcock, USF-Bulls 71-73-71–215

-1 12. Chris Ross, E Michigan 73-73-70–216

E 12. Mark Stevens, Rhode Isl. 71-71-74–216

E 12. Rafael Campos, VCU 65-74-77–216

E 12. Will Cumberland, De Paul 73-73-70–216

E 16. Peter Malnati, Missouri 78-70-69–217
+ 1 17. Danny Evelyn, Fl. South 71-74-73–218
+ 2 17. Jason Millard, M. Tenn St 74-70-74–218
+ 2 17. Judson Eustaquio, Fl. South 76-73-69–218
+ 2 20. Andrew Wyatt, Nebraska 74-73-72–219
+ 3 20. Blake Holbrook, Fl. South 73-73-73–219
+ 3 20. Brian Richey, Fl. South 76-72-71–219
+ 3 20. Cory Blenkush, De Paul 75-72-72–219
+ 3 20. Graham Hill, E Michigan 74-72-73–219
+ 3 20. Robby Carl, USF-Bulls 73-70-76–219
+ 3 26. Kelly Kretz, Marquette 74-76-70–220
+ 4 26. Thomas Kearney, UTSA 74-71-75–220
+ 4 28. Cedric Scotto, S.E. La. 72-73-76–221
+ 5 28. Matt Stauch, Fl. South 76-74-71–221
+ 5 28. Rick Cochran, M. Tenn St 77-71-73–221
+ 5 28. Shane Costelloe, UTSA 76-69-76–221
+ 5 32. Kyle Hodges, Xavier 74-73-75–222
+ 6 32. Mark Jargren, VCU 73-74-75–222
+ 6 32. Mark Whisenant, J’ville St 78-66-78–222
+ 6 32. Matthew McMahon, De Paul 75-74-73–222
+ 6 32. Ted Gray, Marquette 75-73-74–222
+ 6 32. Wes Parker, Troy 78-73-71–222
+ 6 38. Aaron O’Callaghan, S.E. La. 74-76-73–223
+ 7 38. Jakob McKinley, USF-Bulls 76-72-75–223
+ 7 38. Kyle Albright, CSU 76-70-77–223
+ 7 38. Marty Jeppesen, E. Michigan 78-73-72–223
+ 7 38. Nick Martin, De Paul 76-73-74–223
+ 7 43. Brian Balthrop, APSU 76-69-79–224
+ 8 43. Greg Doherty, De Paul 73-76-75–224
+ 8 43. Matthew Carvell, S.E. La. 74-71-79–224
+ 8 43. Phillip Hui, UTSA 72-76-76–224
+ 8 43. Reid Merritt, Troy 76-72-76–224
+ 8 43. Ryne Fisher, Missouri 73-80-71–224
+ 8 43. Vincent Nadeau, VCU 75-74-75–224
+ 8 50. Alan Glynn, Xavier 75-75-75–225
+ 9 50. Erik Barnes, APSU 76-75-74–225
+ 9 50. Michael Bielawski, Marquette 77-72-76–225
+ 9 50. Simon Merry, UTSA 76-75-74–225
+ 9 50. William Harrold, Missouri 75-77-73–225
+ 9 55. Brandon Lemons, E Michigan 78-74-74–226
+ 10 55. Bud Reynolds, Missouri 75-73-78–226
+ 10 55. Grant Leaver, APSU 78-74-74–226
+ 10 55. Jason Elliott, USF-Bulls 74-78-74–226
+ 10 55. Luke Sherrod, APSU 74-78-74–226
+ 10 60. Matt Coles, APSU 77-71-79–227
+ 11 61. Mark Pillen, Nebraska 73-76-79–228
+ 12 62. Brad Valois, Rhode Isl. 74-77-78–229
+ 13 62. Eddie Brescher III, S.E. La. 80-72-77–229
+ 13 62. Kell Shenep, Ark. St. 79-73-77–229
+ 13 62. Marcus Harrell, J’ville St 72-82-75–229
+ 13 62. Patrick Pelletier, Rhode Isl. 79-73-77–229
+ 13 62. Peter Sauerbrei, E Michigan 76-75-78–229
+ 13 68. Alex Brown, VCU 78-74-78–230
+ 14 68. Dustin Schwab, Marquette 76-80-74–230
+ 14 68. Kyle Spencer, Ark. St. 75-77-78–230
+ 14 71. Diego Tamayo, Xavier 77-81-73–231
+ 15 71. Michael Beausejour, Xavier 81-73-77–231
+ 15 73. Bill Forcier, Rhode Isl. 80-72-80–232
+ 16 73. Gonzalo Berlin, J’ville St 78-76-78–232
+ 16 73. Jay Harris, Troy 76-73-83–232
+ 16 76. Tyler Thompson, Ark. St. 74-80-79–233
+ 17 77. John Duthie, Ark. St. 78-79-77–234
+ 18 77. Kyle Marcolla, Missouri 79-77-78–234
+ 18 77. Raj Nahal, USF-Bulls 78-78-78–234
+ 18 80. Mike Coatman, Nebraska 79-74-82–235
+ 19 81. Johann Lee, J’ville St 82-76-78–236
+ 20 82. Brian Keating, Xavier 76-78-83–237
+ 21 83. Brett Sundberg, Nebraska 79-79-80–238
+ 22 84. Emiliano Martinez, UTSA 77-81-81–239
+ 23 85. Michael Hicks, CSU 79-79-82–240
+ 24 85. Tyler Parlsoe, Nebraska 82-82-76–240
+ 24 87. Hunter Harper, CSU 83-76-82–241
+ 25 88. Zach Portemont, Troy 88-77-80–245
+ 29 WD Lanto Griffin, VCU WD-81-70

STORY COMMENTS
Show Hide