Men's golf closes strong in A-Sun Championship
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
By Kirk Downs
Men's golf closes strong in A-Sun Championship

BRASELTON, Ga. – The Lipscomb men’s golf team swung itself into history at the 2014 Atlantic Sun Men’s Golf Championship with a fifth place finish. It was the team’s highest finish in school history in the event.

“This week was a very solid performance from ‘Our Team’,” Lipscomb coach Will Brewer said. “We made a very solid statement this week. We are consistently growing and getting better every week and showing that we can really be competitive in the coming years.

“It really helps us (Lipscomb) with our brand and tells people that we are making a move and gaining respect. We are making good solid small steps towards getting better and improving. And that is all we can do is just get better each and every day.”

Entering the final round on Tuesday, the Bisons were sitting in sixth and trailed fifth-place Jacksonville by 12 strokes. In the world of golf 12 strokes is a wide margin to overcome in just one round, but the Bisons were eager to not be denied of accomplishing a goal that was set back in the fall before the season began.

“Last night in our team meeting we talked about the possibility of jumping into that fifth spot if we played well today,” Brewer said. “And I am really proud of the guys because they took that to heart and played a phenomenal round today to leap over Jacksonville and accomplish one of our goals. 

“We were very challenged on the greens this week because we did not putt the ball well at all. But had we done that, we would have been competitive in that third and fourth spot without any reservation. We adopted what we’ve been working on and it all came together on a very challenging golf course at a great time in the A-Sun Championship, so I could not be any happier.”

Caston Roberts found his stroke in the final round for Lipscomb, posting the lowest round of the day in the 50-player field with a two-under par 70. Roberts torched the course through the first eight holes, getting his score as low as four-under par, but a double bogey on the par-3 third hole cost him two strokes. The junior shot 78-79 in the first two rounds and his three-round total of 227 paced Lipscomb as he finished tied for 17th.

“Caston was striking the ball very well in the first two rounds, but he just couldn’t score,” Brewer said. “He made some putts today and even had it at four-under at one time before losing a couple of strokes. Caston played some phenomenal golf today.”

Stoney Crouch had a good showing in his first A-Sun Championship, shooting a 76 in all three rounds. He was the only other Bison besides Roberts to finish inside the top 20. The freshman tied for 19th with a 228.

“Stoney played very consistent with three 76s,” Brewer said. “For a freshman to come out and do that in his first conference championship is very encouraging.”

Sydney Chung finished in a tie for 27th in his first A-Sun Championship. The youngster opened with a 74 in round one and followed up with a 78 in round two and 79 in round three.

Junior Paul Kleine-Kracht was the only Bison to improve his score in each round. Kleine-Kracht opened with a 79 on Sunday, 77 on Monday and a 76 on Tuesday. His 232 three-round total was good enough to place him in a tie for 29th.

Dustin Wilder, the lone senior taken to the championship, closed out his Lipscomb career with a 35th place finish. After carding an opening round 80 on Sunday, Wilder came back with a 77-78 in the final two rounds for a 235 total.

“Dustin is a quiet leader and he leads by example,” Brewer said. “He is a very strong leader in his convictions. He has worked hard over the last four years and is the epitome of what we are looking for at Lipscomb – a guy with high integrity and strong character.

“I am really glad he came with us this week because he knew the golf course and helped the team. He has been a great team member, captain and leader and for him to go out this way just says a lot about him, the team and where we are going.”

Mercer captured its first-ever A-Sun Men’s Golf Championship after firing a team total of 874 (290-291-293). The Bears were led by Trey Rule’s one-under par performance (215) over 54 holes. Mercer placed three golfers inside the top 10.

Runner-up Kennesaw State finished three strokes behind Mercer, while ETSU claimed third place with an 884; four strokes behind KSU.

Lipscomb’s season is now over and Brewer can start looking to the offseason. The fifth place finish in the A-Sun caps a special season for the Bisons, a season that saw Lipscomb claim two tournament victories – the first wins since 2008. Brewer believes this is just the beginning of great things to come for the Bisons program.

“It helps us with our season ending rankings by beating teams we weren’t supposed to beat,” Brewer said. “And of course with a better ranking, more and more recruits will start looking at us when it comes time for them to choose a school. It will also help us get into better quality tournaments in the future. Anytime you can compete well in the A-Sun Championship you are going to earn respect.

“All we are trying to do is get our brand out there, get respect and get better. Who knows what our end story will be, but I think it’s a great thing for us to finally say we are making progress in the conference and people are starting to take notice.”