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Walker, men’s golf team find success in Puerto Rico

The men’s golf team took a spring break trip to Puerto Rico, and took care of some business at the Palmas Del Mar Invitational while they were there. The team played three solid rounds to land them right in the center of the final standings, at seventh out of 13.

“We beat the teams that we should beat,” said head coach Gary Winger.

Winger was pleased with the teams finish, saying “We were 10 shots out of third, and we could’ve done it in that last round, but we just didn’t get it.”

“We just didn’t have someone play great, and that’s what you need to be successful,” Winger said.

While no Falcon did play great, there were three that still came through with impressive performances.

Senior captain Jace Walker shot a first round of 71 before following that up with two rounds of 74.

“Jace is pretty close to being great again, just like he was in the fall,” Winger said.

“I’m close. My short game, putting, that stuff just wasn’t there yet,” Walker said.

Walker’s final score of 219 landed him in 12th overall.

If the level of Walker’s play continues to increase, or even stays the same, he’ll go down as one of the two best golfers in school history. Walker, who is averaging 72.13 strokes per round this year, a Mid-American Conference best, currently sits just ahead of the single season average of 72.4. Walker is also just slightly ahead of the career average mark of 75.02, as he currently holds an average of 75.00. The interesting twist is that both records are held by head coach Gary Winger.

Sophomore John Powers finished 22nd overall, with a final score of 224. Just one stroke behind him was perhaps the most surprising name of the event, freshman Bryan Mitchell.

Mitchell, who had played in only six rounds all year coming into the event, finished with a final score of 225.

“Bryan had his best tournament since he’s been here,” said Winger.

“I’m a lot more comfortable now than I was in the fall,” said Mitchell. “When I first came here it was eye-opening how good everyone is in college. In high school, you’re just a big fish in a small pond.”

Mitchell expressed that this year has humbled him, and that he now realizes that everyone is just as good as he is. However, if he can continue to elevate his play to the level displayed in Puerto Rico, he may end up being a valuable part of the program.

Senior Trevor Spathelf followed up his performance two weeks ago in Hilton Head, a performance that earned him MAC Golfer of the Week honors with a final score of 234, finishing 52nd overall.

Now, looking back on the event, Walker and the rest of his teammates consider it a successful trip, but it’s clear they’re aiming to accomplish more.

“We beat everyone seeded below us, but no one ranked ahead of us,” Walker said. “We need to start beating some better teams.”

The Falcons will get the chance to in two weeks when they head to Bloomington, Indiana for the Hoosier Invitational.

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