The No. 30 Indiana men’s golf team had its best performance of the season to win the Purdue Fall Invitational by one stroke over the host No. 17 Purdue University. Indiana beat out the 12-team field after 54 holes with a score of 858, good for 6-under par.
It’s the first time since the NYX Hoosier Invitational on April 13, 2014, that Indiana took home the team title at any stroke-play tournament.
Indiana led at the end of the first round with a 1-over score of 289, two strokes ahead of the University of Cincinnati. Sophomore Drew Salyers set the pace, carding a 4-under 68 to lead the entire field.
Salyers, the No. 78-ranked collegiate golfer according to GolfWeek, birdied a team-high six holes on the round, including four in a span of five holes on the back nine. This was the fifth round in the 60s for the two-time Big Ten Golfer of the Week.
Lightning and darkness suspended the second round Tuesday, which had to be completed Wednesday morning. After 36 holes, Indiana trailed Purdue by one stroke, recording an even-par score of 288 in the second round. Junior Noah Gillard led the Hoosiers in round two with a 2-under 70 with three birdies.
In the final round Wednesday, the Hoosiers turned in a marvelous round of 7-under 281 to jump the Boilermakers in the standings. Senior Mitch Davis and fifth-year senior Ethan Shepherd both fired a 4-under 68 to propel Indiana to the top of the leaderboard. The Hoosiers have had at least one player record a score in the 60s in 9-of-12 rounds played this season.
For the first time this season, it was Davis who finished as the top Hoosier. The senior steadily improved as the event progressed, recording rounds of 74, 71 and 68 to finish at 3-under and in a tie for third place.
Davis converted an eagle opportunity on the 10th hole in the first round, one of two Hoosiers to do so Monday. Davis birdied five holes in both the second and third rounds to close out the tournament with a total score of 213. Davis posted his second top-five finish this season and fifth performance inside the top-10 during his collegiate career.
Salyers followed up his first round with two rounds of 2-over 73 to finish tied for ninth at 2-under, one stroke behind Davis. Salyers also birdied five holes in his second round and birdied the seventh, eighth and ninth in the final round to finish at 1-under on the front nine. Salyers has finished in the top 10 in three of four events this season and five times as a Hoosier.
Junior Noah Gillard finished at even par with a round of 2-under sandwiched between two rounds of 1-over 73. Gillard eagled the 16th hole in his final round to finish tied for No. 14 overall and third among Indiana players.
Fifth-year senior Ethan Shepherd posted two rounds of 3-over 75 to begin the tournament. Shepherd was the other Hoosier to post an eagle in the first round after he chipped in a shot on the 11th hole. He also birdied three holes in the front nine of his second round.
Shepherd turned in a very impressive bogey-free round of 4-under 68 to finish tied for No. 22 with a total score of 218, good for 2-over par. Shepherd posted the best round of his collegiate career since carding a 66 in the second round of the 2019 Steelwood Collegiate. In total, Shepherd has played nine rounds in the 60s as a Hoosier.
Sophomore Clay Merchent rounded out Indiana’s victory with a total score of 220, 4-over after two rounds of 2-over 74 followed by a final round score of 72. The sophomore birdied eight holes over the course of the two-day tournament to finish tied for No. 28.
Individually, senior Harry Reynolds and freshman Ethan Chelf also competed for Indiana. Reynolds birdied three holes across three rounds, with two of them coming in the first round to finish at 11-over in total and in a tie for No. 51.
Despite recording four birdies in his first round, Chelf shot an 11-over 83, and followed up with rounds of 8-over 80 and 3-over 75, respectively, to finish at 238, 22-over, and in a tie for No. 73. The freshman did manage to birdie three holes in both the second and third rounds.
Indiana’s next event is the Quail Valley Collegiate Invitational on Oct. 17-18 at the Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, Florida.