Men’s golf team finishes first at Pinehurst Intercollegiate

The Dayton Flyers men’s golf team poses with the trophy from their team win in the 2021 Pinehurst Intercollegiate. Photo courtesy of UD Athletics.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

The University of Dayton men’s golf team won top team honors with a first-place finish at the 2021 Pinehurst Intercollegiate on Sunday, beating Abilene Christian by two strokes.

With scores of 300, 289 and 296 in each of the three rounds (885 total, +33) over the three-day event in North Carolina, the Flyers came away with the best overall team score.

At one of the United States’ most renowned courses, senior golfer Connor Quigley said it felt “pretty cool” to be back at one of the most famous courses in the world, especially after their chance to go last year was shut down because of COVID-19.

“We were happy to be back, and for me personally, (Pinehurst) is one of the coolest courses you can play,” Quigley said. “It was definitely a great experience.”

Sophomore golfer Kyle Schmidt, who tied Quigley as the top team finishers in 12th place (+9), said it was his first time playing Pinehurst No. 8.

“I had been to Pinehurst once before, but I was pretty young, so I don’t really remember a lot of it,” Schmidt said. “But it is for sure a really cool place.”

Schmidt added that walking through the pro shop and clubhouse, and seeing the names of the people who had played there and to be on the same grounds they had been on was “pretty cool.”

The Flyers golfers were able to push away the awe of being at a course that is the anchor site of the U.S. Open, and put together three consistent rounds during a time that Quigley called “an absolute blast” as the team of five played together through the rounds in tee groups of two and three.

But while it was a blast and a “ton of fun,” the Flyers had to hold off a late run from Abilene Christian, who finished just two strokes back and had a 12-stroke advantage over the Flyers in Sunday’s run.

“We all kind of knew it was close coming down to the end, but that’s definitely something we’ve been working at for the last several months the best ways we can,” Schmidt said. “We’ve been competing against each other and working on finishing. That’s our big team thing, is when the pressure’s there, going back to our routines and staying in the moment, realizing that those pressures are coming because we did something good to get into the position to win.”

Mentality and team values are the factors Quigley and Schmidt attributed to their win.

“The first (value) is commitment,” Quigley said. “When things don’t go well for a short stretch of time, that’s what we do back to. And I think, none of us expect to go out and play a perfect round of golf.”

As the first time “in a while” the team members had been in a position to win — which Quigley thinks can be a distraction — said getting back to being committed to every shot and willing to face the challenge means good things can happen.

Quigley and Schmidt said it felt really good to get their first first place finish while golfing for the Flyers, and to see the hard work pay off and the reactions was “really awesome” for Quigley.

In their win, the Flyers had no individual finishers in the top ten, which head coach Gip Hoagland said is rare for a team to win, but he said the team has learned to play for each other.

“A lot of what we talk about is who we play for and what great teams do,” Hoagland said. “Great teams play for each other, and they really don’t care who wins individually… With this group, they’re all capable of doing that (shooting three or four under par), but when you win the way we did — all five guys throughout the three rounds hit shots that we just had to have.”

Hoagland said “little sparks” that changed momentum like a big putt or a chip for birdie, and it was “awesome” to see their mission of team-first to be put into action.

With consistent scores in each of the three rounds, Hoagland brought up the team’s goal to be better every day. He still thought they could have been better on Friday and Sunday, but thought the team brought their ‘A’ game on Saturday.

“They were committed to their shots and they knew what they could do, and made it happen. They didn’t back down, they were very resilient.”

Next up, the Flyers will host the Flyer Invitational at NCR Country Club in Kettering on April 12-13, with 36 holes on the 12th and 18 on the 13th. 12 teams (Dayton included) will play in the invitational, and Hoagland said spectators are welcome.

“The cool thing about this event that’s different about this event is that all five of our guys will be playing together in one group,” Hoagland said. “Our parents love it because they can see everybody, it’s great for me because I can see because I can see all the guys hit all the shots, and as close as our team is, I think people that come out and watch are going to see how close these guys are and how they interact with each other on the golf course.”

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