The University of Dayton men’s golf team placed 8th last Monday, March 11, and Tuesday, March 12, at the Don Benbow Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla.
As a team, Dayton finished with scores of 305-305, finishing plus-42, besting new Atlantic 10 foe Butler University by 11 strokes. Senior Brenten Blakeman led UD with rounds of 76 and 75 to finish tied for 25th.
“I felt good out there,” Blakeman said. “I had two solid days, but we didn’t finish where we wanted to.”
Blakeman said he’s not sure anyone on the team is overly happy with an eighth place finish, but added each golfer is capable of getting big-time scores.
“We haven’t performed the way we thought we would this season,” he said. “We’re not a bad team, but we’ve definitely had some missed opportunities.”
Despite the outcome, head coach Gip Hoagland said the team has made progress and is becoming a cohesive unit.
“In the long run, we want to compete to win every time out on the course, but for whatever reason we haven’t been able to finish this year,” he said.
Senior Sean Keating (74-78-152) finished 29th, followed by senior Matt Buse (80-76-156), senior John Muir (75-82-157) and senior Mike Griffin (82-76-158), who were 43rd, 47th and 51st, respectively on the 6536-yard course.
This spring, the weather has plagued the Flyers. In two of their last three outings, Dayton has faced a round delay or cancellation due to inclement weather.
According to Hoagland, course conditions were good all weekend, though the team played through rain during their final round Tuesday morning.
“We had consistency this weekend,” he said. “All the [players] looked comfortable on the greens and with hitting the ball.”
UD was stranded on an island for a short period, as well.
Saturday, the team played a round at TPC-Sawgrass, a mainstay in professional golf, which features a 17th hole known as the “Island Green.”
“Playing on a course like that doesn’t happen very often for college programs,” Hoagland said. “We were fortunate to have that chance and really had a great time.”
For Hoagland, bonding with his five senior players on this course was special.
“It’s not just the place,” he said. “We were all able to share it as a team and not worry about the score. This class arrived when I did, so it was great to play a round with the guys.”
Each of the six golfers, including Hoagland, overcame the adversity presented by the 17th hole.
“I know none of us missed the island,” Blakeman said. “I made par for it … so I was happy.”
“I don’t remember who won, but I know it wasn’t me,” Hoagland said.