Graduate captain Jack Sparrow noticed early in his practice round at the Marquette Intercollegiate tournament that the course was well suited to his game.
The rest of the IU men’s golf team must have noticed it too. The team had its best tournament of the season, finishing fifth out of 12 teams.
“The layout of the course just fit my eye for some reason, and I realized the par fives are pretty gettable, so I looked to take advantage of those,” Sparrow said.
Sparrow did attack those par fives, doing exactly what he said he would. He shot five under on them, which was tied for fourth best in the competition. It helped propel him to a one under par score, tied for 12th place.
IU head coach Mike Mayer mentioned that Sunday’s first round followed a common theme for the Hoosiers: the inability to finish.
Through 12 holes, IU sat in first place with a team score of one over par. The last six holes added 11 strokes to the Hoosiers’ score, dropping them as far as eighth before finishing in a tie for sixth.
“We were up near the lead most of the first round, but we didn’t play the last four or five holes very well,” Mayer said. “They got there and didn’t stay there, then the second round we had a really nice round and put ourselves in contention to win the tournament.”
Part of the blame for the slip goes to the weather. The wind picked up in the afternoon, causing the last six holes of the day to be difficult.
“After the round, we talked, like, ‘I don’t think we need to overthink this.’” Sparrow said. “We all played well, and we proved that in the second round, coming back with a really good score.”
The second round was the Hoosiers’ best round of the season so far. After shooting 12 strokes over par to open up play in the tournament, the Hoosiers bounced back with a seven under par second round performance, launching themselves into third place.
No other team in the tournament had as good of a second round.
The second round was also the team's first of the year with a team score under par. It was an 11-stroke improvement over its previous best rounds, a twin pair of four over par rounds at the Windon Memorial at the beginning of the season.
In the last round, Mayer said the team played just OK. It still turned in a round under par, shooting one under but couldn’t keep pace with the field, dropping the team from third to fifth. Only three teams shot a worse round, and Purdue, who won the tournament, shot 12 strokes under par.
“We had a solid final round, but there were some low final numbers out there, and we didn’t really capitalize the way we’re capable of,” Sparrow said. “As a team, nobody really had their best stuff this week, but it was definitely scratching the surface on what we think we can do.”
Mayer said the tournament gave the players a little belief in themselves.
“We’ve been working hard, and we’re not surprised," Mayer said. "We’re getting better and better, and I think we took a nice step in the right direction in this tournament.”
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