Sophomore David Mills lifts his putter, bends down onto his knees and reads the green. He looks for the breaks that will push his golf ball from left to right, while IU Coach Mike Mayer guides him with soft words.
As Mills walks around the green, the other two players examine their positions and hit their putts. Mills watches the golf balls fall into the hole, taking note of their strategies.
Moving into his stance, Mills eyes the hole one last time and slightly moves his putter in a pendulum-like motion. A small cheer breaks the silence as Mill’s golf ball drops into the hole for a birdie.
The birdie helped Mills stay at even par for the final round of the NYX Hoosier Invitational on Sunday, in which he tied for third overall. Mills was the top finisher for the Hoosiers, posting a four-under-par 209 for the tournament.
“Coach really helps me with visualizing the golf course,” Mills said. “It’s not always about the mentality, it’s about looking at where I need to be.”
Mayer said the team came out tight at its first stroke play event of the season, in which it placed third with a one-over-par 853.
Northwestern finished victorious with an 11-under-par 841 at the 54-hole stroke play tournament Saturday and Sunday. The Hoosiers trailed by one stroke to second-place IU-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“There was a little added pressure playing at home because you want to play well at home,” Mayer said. “We didn’t play bad, we just didn’t play good, either. Almost every round, we really missed someone shooting a good number, which we’ve had all spring.”
At the squad’s prior event, the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, senior co-captain David Erdy took a 4-0 victory and was the only Hoosier to win all four rounds. Erdy carded a two-under-par 69 in the final round to tie for seventh with a 212 tournament total.
In the final round, the squad dropped two strokes from its first and second rounds, for which they tallied consecutive scores of 285. Mayer said the team was tight in the first two rounds and that this carried into the final round, despite better play Sunday.
“We came out really tight for some reason, and it really restricted our play,” Mayer said. “We’re going to have to loosen them out a little bit this week, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Senior co-captain Chase Wright and junior Brant Peaper continued the lineup by tying for 18th, and junior Corey Ziedonis rounded out the squad, tying for 30th.
With the strong wind and chilly weather, Ziedonis said he had a tough start in the final round. An eagle on No. 9 turned his game for the better, and he said it was smooth sailing from there. Ziedonis carded a two-over-par 73 in the final round en route to his six-over-par 219 tournament total.
“This year has been good, I’ve been getting in the lineup, and I hope it turns around a little bit at the end here and gets a little better,” Ziedonis said.
Although the Hoosiers lost their three-time title, Mayer said the team learned from their first stroke play event and will move forward to the Kepler Intercollegiate on April 14 and 15.
“We just didn’t get the job done, we didn’t play bad, and we can learn from it,” Mayer said. “We won’t always win at home, but I still think we should have. We’ll take a lot from this tournament and just get better.”