The Lincoln College men’s golf team opened up their fall season at Lake Bracken Country Club in Galesburg, IL in the Charger Classic hosted by Carl Sandburg College. The weather and course conditions were perfect for scoring and the Lynx took advantage. Sophomore Hunter Leach (Glasford, IL) led LC with an even par on the 6,341-yard par 71 course which was good enough for a 3-way tie for first place. Leach went into a sudden death playoff on the first hole with Dennis Ready of Blackhawk College and Ryan Hansen of Carl Sandburg. Leach was knocked out after the first playoff hole as Ready and Hansen both parred the hole.
Leach began his round on the 7th hole in the shotgun format with three straight pars until a bogey on the 360-yard par-4 10th hole put Leach 1-over par. Leach recorded his first of three birdies on the day on the 275-yard par-4 13th hole. Birdies on the 3rd and 5th hole put Leach at 1-under par heading into his final hole of the day, the 414-yard par-4 6th hole. An errant tee shot and approach shot left Leach with short-sided to a tight pin. Leach wasn’t able to get up-and-down and bogied the his final hole to finish at even par.
Head coach Jeff Nelson said of Leach’s round, “I am very excited for Hunter and his outstanding round today on an unfamiliar course. Hunter worked very hard during the summer entering into several amateur tournaments getting himself ready for this season. I am so happy for him to be able to see his hard work pay off. This was his first even-par round for his career. I’m hoping it gives him the confidence to know that he can go low.”
As a team, Lincoln College shot a 312 which was good enough for a third place finish among the 13 teams entered. Blackhawk College shot 305 to take the team title and Carl Sandburg finished second on their home course with a 310.
Sophomore Hunter Bettis (Bluffs, IL), an NJCAA honorable mention All-American last season finishing 22nd in the National Tournament, struggled a bit today and posted an 81. Bettis, usually a birdie machine, could only muster one birdie on the day on the 415-yard par-4 2nd hole.
“Little H just couldn’t get much going today, but he had a good attitude through it all,” Nelson said. “I could tell he was disappointed but he handled himself very well on the course, which I’m very proud of. I’m confident he will get his game straightened out sooner than later.”
Freshman and former Lincoln Railer Jack White posted the second best round for the Lynx in his first collegiate golf tournament of his career with a seven-over-par 78. White had three birdies on the day and put together a solid round for his first time on the course.
“Jack has a great opportunity to step in right away and help this team score,” Nelson said. “Given the short amount of time Jack’s played golf (began playing entering his freshman year in high school), it’s amazing how well he’s picked up the game and well he can score the ball. He’s got a lot of confidence in his ability, which is a positive, and I’m looking for some great things out of Jack moving forward.”
Delavan High School graduate and sophomore Josh Matthews also fired an 81. Matthews birdied the 485-yard par-5 3rd hole and posted a solid 40 on the outward nine and a 41 coming back. The big, left-hander has shown some great improvement from last year to this year. Through the first three qualifying rounds and the first tournament, Matthews has shot a consistent 81, 79, 80, 81. Nelson said of Matthews, “If Josh can eliminate the one or two hiccups within his rounds, I believe he can consistently score in the mid to upper 70’s. Through hard work this fall and paying attention to the areas he needs to work on, I think he’ll be able to be a solid contributor for us this year.”
Sophomore Cody Curry, an Illini Central alum, rounded out the team’s top five scores with a solid 82. Curry carded two birdies on the day and kept with it through a couple of difficult holes which prevented a score in the upper 70’s. Other scores for the Lynx as individuals were Rochester grad sophomore Brandon Savage 85, Mt. Pulaski grad freshman Caleb Przykopanski 89, and Lanphier grad sophomore Nik Jackson 91.
The Lynx top five scores from the Charger Classic along with the three initial qualifying rounds will travel to the scenic Fyre Lake Golf Course in Sherrard, IL on Friday. Those that will compete are Hunter Bettis, Hunter Leach, Jack White, Cody Curry, and Josh Matthews.