Canavan leads rally at Golfweek D-III event

Skidmore's Matt Canavan

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HAINES CITY, Fla. – Skidmore senior Matt Canavan discovered the secret to playing summer golf in Florida: Stay hydrated.

Canavan fired a 4-under 68 Monday in the second round of Golfweek’s Division III Fall Invitational to help vault his Thoroughbreds into second place behind Greensboro (N.C.) College. Skidmore (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), which sits at 1 under after Monday’s 3-under showing, trails The Pride by five shots.

After shooting even par on his opening nine in Round 1, Canavan admittedly fell apart on the back nine, shooting 43 and turning in a 79 after “the heat got to him.”

“I had a total breakdown yesterday,” Canavan said. “I just completely lost focus out there. But today I stayed hydrated and that was huge. Today was a little cooler, too. It seemed like it, anyway.”

Canavan was bogey free on the front nine on Monday, making birdies on Nos. 2 and 5 to shoot 34. He got it to 5 under with an eagle at the 12th and a birdie at the 13th, but closed with a bogey at No. 18.

“I wasn’t getting in trouble off the tee like I did yesterday, and I was just thinking my way around the course,” he said.

Greensboro senior Brock Elder continues to lead the individual race after shooting his second consecutive 68. Elder, who leads Transylvania’s Justin Tereshko by three shots, showed no nerves playing with the 18-hole lead. He came out red-hot on Monday and was 5 under through his first six holes thanks to three birdies and an eagle.

As for those two holes he parred?

“I hit it to about eight feet on the first hole and missed it and then hit it to about five feet on No. 2 and missed that, too,” Elder said. “I was trying to be patient and just telling myself that they were going to start falling eventually.”

On No. 3, a 221-yard par 3, they did. Elder rolled in his first birdie of the day and backed it up with an 8-footer for eagle at No. 4.

“From then on, I was kind of on cruise control,” he said. “I was definitely nervous, but then some putts started to fall in the hole and I calmed down.”

Elder got a reality check starting at the 10th when he made bogey, then he two short birdie putts at Nos. 11 and 12.

“I was getting a little tentative, so Coach just told me to mentally reset and put myself back at even,” Elder said. “Then I got a little more aggressive and started finding birdies again.”

Elders’ teammate Ben Nihart, who shot 71 despite a bogey-par-bogey finish, trails by four shots.

“Coming in, I tried to get cute and made a bogey at the par-5 (16th) and then I three-putted my last hole to finish two over in my last three,” Nihart said. “I hit it well, I just didn’t score too well because I couldn’t drop any putts.”

Wittenberg’s Ricky Boerner and Huntingdon’s J.P. Kircher, Elder’s fellow 18-hole leaders, were both over par in Round 2, with Boerner shooting 73 and Kircher 76. They are fourth and 12th, respectively, in the individual scoring.

• • •

STUDY HALL: University of Texas at Tyler shot one of only two sub-par team scores on Monday, a 1-under 287 that moved them into a tie for third with Huntingdon at 4 over. They didn’t have much time to celebrate, however, as coach King Campbell ordered his team to report to the dining room at Southern Dunes for afternoon study hall.

“The house we’re staying at says it has internet, but we couldn’t get it to work,” Campbell said. “With the timing of our flights, we couldn’t be guaranteed a flight back tomorrow night, so we have to go back early Wednesday. That means these kids are missing a Monday and a Wednesday class, which we don’t like to do.

“They are practicing this afternoon and then we’ll go home and give them a little bit of down time. Then we will study and we’ll go have a real nice meal and see where we stand tomorrow.”

Leading the way for the Patriots is Austin Quinten, a transfer student from Ivy-league Columbia who shot 2-under 70 in Round 2.

“With his ACT scores and GPA, I probably won’t have to get on him too much about studying,” Campbell said with a laugh.

• • •

HOUR AT THE AMATEUR: Huntingdon senior Chase Blaich is the lone player in this week’s field who played in the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay. He finished T-223 out of 312.

Blaich’s 68 at Southern Dunes in Round 2 may have been an indicator of just how hard Chambers Bay plays.

“He probably didn’t play that much different of a round today than what he did when he shot 84 at Chambers Bay,” said Huntingdon coach Matt Mahanic. “It’s just that any mistake you make out here, you have a chance to come back from, whereas any mistake you make at Chambers Bay is just magnified.”

Regardless of his score, Blaich said there was plenty to take away from playing at the Amateur.

“Watching other good players really makes you realize what your weak points are,” he said. “I putt well, but as far as chipping goes, I’m not nearly as good. I played with two kids at the Amateur who, when they missed the greens, would just get up-and-down without even thinking about it. It was like a two-putt for them”

Mahanic said nothing but good things can come from Blaich’s learning experience in Washington.

“Any shot he had out there today was twice as easy as anything he had at Chambers Bay,” he said. “We wish he would have made match play out there, but his golf game from now until he dies is going to be better because he played on that golf course.”

• • •

HEATING UP: The Golfweek Fall Invitational is a foreign expereince to St. Olaf College for many reasons. The leaderboard reads like a who’s who of Division III golf, which is a bit out of the ordinary for the small school from Northfield, Minn. But the other big difference is the weather in Haines City, Fla.

“Our first match of the year, it was 58 degrees with a 35 mile per hour wind the whole day and we shot 318, which was a good score on that day,” coach Glen Peterson said.

Billy Utter, who shot 71 in Round 2 said that cold, windy weather is part of the reason St. Olaf is often overlooked in the talented Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“We’re a deep conference,” Utter said. “It may not seem like it because the scoring averages are higher up in the Northland, but there’s a reason for it. You come down here and it’s a blast. We never, never get this weather.”

St. Olaf, who finished the 2009-10 season ranked No. 107 in the Golfstat rankings, is tied for seventh in the team standings after a second-round 1-over 289.

“That’s a scoring record in my tenure as a coach at St. Olaf,” Peterson said. “That was absolutely huge for us.”

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