Ratner, Guilford sweep Golfweek Fall Invite
SANDESTIN, Fla. – At the beginning of the week, one player in the field at the Golfweek Fall Invitational called Guilford’s Noah Ratner the best player in Division III golf.
Over the next 54 holes at the Raven Golf Course at Sandestin, Ratner did very little to prove him wrong.
Closing with a final-round 69, Ratner won the individual title by three shots over LaGrange’s Hudson Keener. The victory was the second in a row for Ratner, who last week won the Gordin NCAA Division III Preview for his first collegiate win.
“Last week was a big help,” Ratner said. “It helped a lot to know that I just needed to play my own game and make pars. I didn’t need to think about what anyone else was doing.”
Ratner looked rock-solid all week, making only four bogeys over 54 holes. He was the only player to shoot under par in all three rounds.
Conditions were much more calm Tuesday, with the high winds of Rounds 1 and 2 falling off. The scoring average dropped from 79.22 to 74.86.
"I liked how the conditions were today, it made the golf course much more playable than the other two days," Ratner said.
QUAKES TAKE THE CAKE: Led by Ratner’s medalist performance, Guilford also walked off with the team title, finishing at 22-over 874 to defeat UT-Tyler and Illinois Wesleyan by 9 shots each.
The Quakers also got a top-20 finish from JT Thomas, who closed with 1-under 70 and finished T-15 at 9 over for the week.
Guilford finished second last week at the Preview, finishing well behind Methodist, this week’s seventh-place finishers.
“We were a little flat coming out, but we got to the stretch of the course that we made up ground on the first day and played well,” head coach Corey Maggard said. “This is our expectation though. We don’t go to any tournaments to finish second.”
GET WELL SOON: UT-Tyler played with heavy hearts Tuesday, as head coach King Campbell was hospitalized Monday night with blood clots in his lungs.
Ky Evans, the team’s assistant coach, said Campbell had shortness of breath during Monday’s round and was taken to the hospital, where he was in critical condition.
“Our kids did really well, though that was a big distraction,” Evans said. “He seems to be doing better today – he was texting me earlier, which means he must have gotten his phone back somehow.”
UT-Tyler shot 4-over 288 as a team Tuesday, at one point making a run at Guilford, but they were never able to overtake the Quakers.
“We definitely wanted to come out and play good for him,” said Cody Gonzalez, who shot 70 on Tuesday. “We spent a lot of time praying for him last night as a group before we went to bed. We kept telling him not to check Golfstat so his heart wouldn’t rise.”
Campbell is expected to be at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast for up to another week.
ACES!: The last time Oglethorpe had a hole-in-one, they set a school record for lowest team round on a par-71 golf course. Tuesday, the team did the exact same thing, with an ace courtesy of Anthony Maccaglia.
“I’ve gotten robbed a couple times, but this was my finally my first (hole-in-one),” said Maccaglia, who aced the 166-yard, par-3 sixth with a punch-cut 5-iron. “It landed about 10 feet short and started rolling toward the hole. Before it went in, two volunteers by the green just put their hands up and then I saw it disappear and I just dropped my club and started jumping around.”
Maccaglia birdied Nos. 15 and 17 and made no bogeys Tuesday to shoot 67, the best round of the day.
The Stormy Petrels also got under-par rounds from Matt Rebitch and Jordan Hall, who each shot 70. Overall, it was a 6-under 278 for Oglethorpe, its lowest score on a par-71 course by three shots.
IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD: Ladies and gentleman, I give you the curious case of Cates Culpepper.
Less than a month ago, Culpepper’s game was at its peak. He shot 66-67-69 at a Huntingdon team qualifier and at one point had a 19-shot lead over his teammates. Everything looked good on the range this week, but somewhere along the line, Culpepper lost it.
After playing the first three holes in 1 over in Round 1, Culpepper made a 7 at the par-3 fourth. That’s when the wheels fell off for the sophomore.
Culpepper, who last year was a Division III All-American, shot 107 in Round 1, 104 in Round 2 and 93 in the final round.
“I kept trying to fight back, but every time I got up to the ball, I just saw it going right. I just couldn’t get the mental picture out of my mind,” Culpepper said. “It’s perfect on the range; it’s beautiful. Even after the round it’s fine. I just went out to the course and couldn’t trust myself.”
Culpepper said he plans to take the week off to clear his head and get back to work. He appeared to be on the way back up in his final nine, making five pars before being undone by a 9 at the par-5 seventh.
“My swing is in good shape and it’s headed in the right direction,” he said. “I need to do some more work on mental game and I’ll have it back next semester.”