Despite conditions, Ratner rolls on at Fall Invite
SANDESTIN, Fla. – It’s tough to believe that weather can get any nicer than what we saw Sunday at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort.
Golfweek Fall Invitational: Second round
Check out images from the second round of the Golfweek Fall Invitational at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort.
Monday was a different story, as the Raven Golf Course at Sandestin was pelted with winds that surely would have knocked Christopher Columbus even further off-course. With both water and out of bounds on nearly every hole, the scoring average soared to 79.22, up from 77.72 in Sunday’s opening round.
“It was windy, the pins were in some good spots and guys were making some guesses and sometimes they were guessing wrong,” said Guilford coach Corey Maggard. “Unfortunately in the range-finder era, guys are just shooting some numbers and hitting it right into a tease that’s leaving them in a bad spot.”
Despite the conditions, Guilford’s Noah Ratner continued to cruise, turning in a 2-under 69 that put him four shots ahead of LaGrange’s Hudson Keener. Ratner and Illinois Wesleyan’s Stefan Johnson (69) were the only two players to break par in the second round.
Considering the conditions, it’s difficult to decide which was better: Ratner’s opening 66 or Monday’s 69.
“Both were good,” Maggard said. “I was proud of him yesterday for pushing to go low. Today, he had to grind a lot more because he was missing some greens long and having to make some long up-and-downs from some bad places.”
Once again the putter was the difference maker for Ratner, who’s only bogey came at the par-5 third.
“I’ve made all my 5-footers and that’s kept me going,” Ratner said. “It gives you a lot of confidence to know that if it’s inside 5 feet, I’m going to make it.”
Ratner, who some players have called the best player in Div. III golf, is fresh off a victory at the Gordin D-III NCAA Preview, the first collegiate win for the junior from Asheville, N.C. He is now 10 under over his past four tournament rounds.
“I think (last week’s win) will help me calm down a little bit tomorrow,” Ratner said. “Even if I have an early bogey like I did today (No. 3), I know I can come back and that pars are going to be good scores.”
Illinois Wesleyan also took the bad conditions in stride, moving into a tie for second at 27 over.
“In Bloomington (Ill.) it’s very windy every day, so we’re usually able to grind it out and put up a pretty good score,” said Johnson, who made six birdies in his second round, which included a bogey-free 32 on the back nine.
The Titans trail Guilford by nine shots, although it appeared as though it would be six at the conclusion of play. Austin Craig was hit with a three-stroke penalty after an improper drop on the 18th hole. Craig hit his apporach in the water and took a drop on the severe downhill slope next to the green, but picked his ball up before it officially entered the hazard – a two-stroke penalty for picking up the in-play ball before it came to rest. He was given a third penalty stroke for touching a ball that was technically in play.
UT-Tyler also is tied for second after a 20-over day, falling off the pace set by Guilford after trailing by only one after Round 1. Trent Boudoin shot his second consecutive 73 and sits in a tie for sixth to lead the Patriots.
Oglethorpe is at 40 over for the week and in fourth, while Rhodes College rounds out the top five at 41 over.
Golfweek Fall Invitational video: Round 2 wrap-up
Golfweek Fall Invitational video: Illinois Wesleyan & Methodist