Three IU men’s golf players recorded a season-low round and two tied their career-best rounds as the team finished off the fall season with a third place finish at the Steelwood Collegiate Invitational.
IU head coach Mike Mayer said the Hoosiers’ game plan was to be aggressive all weekend and to make a lot of birdies. IU led the tournament in birdies with 64, 13 more than Mississippi State University.
“We had some big rounds and low numbers, and that’s what you have to have to be competitive,” Mayer said. “We got that kind of production we wanted.”
The team came away with their first tournament score under par, shooting one-under. Senior Brock Ochsenreiter and junior Ethan Shepard led the Hoosiers with even pars for the tournament, finishing in ninth place.
In the second round Saturday, Shepard stroked six-under par, tying his career best from last year at the Chatham Hills Collegiate.
Shepard said when he’s having a good day, he makes sure not to overthink things.
“Basically nothing is going through your mind because you’re just in a zone,” Shepard said. “You just see the flag, and that’s it. It’s very easy to play golf that way.”
Sophomore Mitch Davis also tied his career-best round, shooting four-under par Sunday to finish the tournament. Ochsenreither shot two-under par in the final round to set his lowest card for the season.
Mayer said the strong weekend stemmed from a lot of hard work and preparation, adding that IU progressed as the season progressed. Although progress was not entirely linear, the Hoosiers have improved throughout the fall and know they can put in work for an even better spring.
“Most of the time, hard work pays off,” Mayer said. “These guys have been working hard, and it showed this tournament.”
Yet even as their hard work paid off in a third place finish in Alabama, there was still hunger for more from the Hoosiers. Shepard expressed some disappointment in his weekend despite a season-high finish from a Hoosier.
“I still didn’t put three good rounds together for a great tournament,” Shepard said.
Steelwood didn’t present the stiffest competition the Hoosiers have faced this season, but Mayer said it was still a strong field with good teams.
“We felt like we could come here and get some wins that we needed, which we got,” Mayer said. “We knew if we competed the way we’re capable we’d have a good chance coming in to win.”
IU ultimately couldn’t keep up with Mississippi State, who ran away with the tournament with a score of 19-under par.
With Steelwood and fall play behind them, the Hoosiers now look forward to some well-earned rest before preparing for the spring. The break for the Hoosiers will include working on things outside of golf. Mayer stressed focusing on academics, strength and conditioning and some mental exercises.
“A lot of these kids really haven’t had much of a break since January,” Mayer said. “They’ll get some time off they need.”