For the second consecutive tournament, the Valparaiso University men’s golf team finds itself very much involved in a tight race for the team title entering the final round. Valpo led the 12-team field through one round on Monday at the Zach Johnson Invitational hosted by Drake at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa. After Round 2, the Brown & Gold are part of a three-way tie for second, two strokes behind first-place Loyola.
How It Happened
- Freshman Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) is contending for medalist honors with a 144 (+20) through 36 holes. He is two strokes in back of Loyola’s Nate Vance, who leads the 75-player field. Creighton’s Nate Vontz (not to be confused with Nate Vance) is tied with VanArragon for second.
- VanArragon started his day with a 69 (-2) before carding a 75 in Round 2.
- Sophomore Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead) is right on his teammate’s tail, holding a 145 (+3) through 36 holes. He went 72-73 on Day 1 to hold fourth place in the event.
- Sophomore Charlie Toman (Chardon, Ohio / Notre Dame-Catholic Latin) needed 76 strokes to complete the morning round before carding an 80 in the afternoon. His 156 (+14) puts him at t-33, while junior Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) is tied for 40th with a 158.
Inside the Rounds
- After holding the lead with a 295 in Round 1, Valpo posted a 308 in the afternoon to finish the day at 603 (+35). The team is deadlocked with Drake and Creighton for second with Loyola holding a two-stroke edge in a tightly-packed field.
- Valpo’s best performance has been on Par 4s as the team’s 4.40 (+44) is second-best behind Creighton.
- The birdie production was on point for Valpo, as the squad’s 24 birdies are the most of the 12 teams competing.
- Willis’ 4.33 average on Par 5s is the best in the field, while VanArragon and Willis are tied for second with seven birdies each.
- VanArragon’s 69 in Round 1 was the only sub-70 round by any of the 75 participants. The round tied his season-best set in Round 3 of the Gene Miranda Falcon Invite on Sept. 8. He became the fourth Valpo golfer to stroke a 69 this fall.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“We were able to get out to a quick start this morning with nine birdies in our first 4-5 holes for each player. We sustained that lead all day up until the last hole. When you factor in the 87-degree temperatures, walking 36 holes of golf and a continuous 15-20 mph wind all day, the guys played hard and gave it their best.”
“We had 16 birdies in the first round and only eight in the second round. We couldn't get as many of those putts to drop in the second round and we simply didn't knock the ball as close to the hole. We had too many big holes today, the speed of our putting was not very good and our short irons were not sharp. We really struggled coming down the stretch in the second round and we simply gave up fourteen shots to the leader in the last seven holes. That's a difficult way to end a round, but the guys are going to put it behind them and tomorrow is a new day to get after it.”
“Garrett and Caleb played tremendous for us all day under some pretty challenging conditions. Both of the guys had seven birdies and they didn't have any double or triple bogeys. I thought Caleb’s first round was exceptional and Garrett was very consistent through the 36 holes. It's exciting to have two players in the running for the individual title for the second tournament in a row.”
Valpo will play the final round of the Zach Johnson Invitational hosted at Glen Oaks CC in West Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday beginning at 8:30 a.m. Live scoring is available via BirdieFire with the link available on ValpoAthletics.com.