Following a week of preparation at Pinehurst Resort, the Hillsdale College Chargers finished third over the weekend at the Saginaw Valley State University Spring Invitational in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Shooting an even-par 576, the Chargers beat out fourth-place Drury University by one stroke and fell behind Grand Valley State University and top finisher Ferris State University by three and nine strokes, respectively.
“The team’s quality of play was solid,” head coach Nathan Gilchrist said. “They were consistent and eliminated mistakes. That’s why we had a chance to win.”
At the end of the first day, the Chargers found themselves out of the lead by three with a 285, behind Grand Valley and Drury. On the second day, the Chargers tied Grand Valley with a 291.
But while Drury fell out of the shared lead, Ferris shot a 12-under-par 276, the lowest combined score of the tournament, giving them the tournament win. The round was driven by the low medalist Andrew Hammett’s six-under 66.
“It’s tough to beat that, but we played pretty good,” junior Sutton Dunwoodie said. “Our game plan was to stay in contention and not beat ourselves, and I think we did that.”
Individually, senior Liam Purslowe led the team, finishing tied-sixth overall with a three-under 141. Senior Junior Ryan Zetwick finished one stroke behind and tied for 12th. Further down the lineup, the Chargers performed well, limiting mistakes over the two-round tournament. Both days, the Chargers dropped a 75 from their cumulative score, an enviable score to some teams who finished lower in the event.
Besides Hillsdale’s low scorer and this week’s G‑MAC Player of the Week, Purslowe, the other tournament standout to Gilchrist was Dunwoodie, who shot a five-over 149 that earned him tied-51st overall.
“Sutton’s on-course passion and demeanor was very refreshing for the team and provided a calming effect for his teammates,” Gilchrist said. “He is extremely animated while playing.”
Dunwoodie said his on-course demeanor is really his effort to stay comfortable.
“I just like to go have fun,” Dunwoodie said. “It was nice to out there hitting golf shots. When I’m out there playing, I’m just trying to be myself. It’s the best way to avoid getting nervous.”
And he attributed his comfort to a favorable course set-up.
“In general, it was pretty short and not too difficult,” he said.
Before the tournament began, freshman Josh Davenport cracked his driver in a practice round. With no time to replace it, Davenport had no choice but to use coach Gilchrist’s, according to Dunwoodie. It didn’t matter much, as Davenport shot two over in the tournament, with a one-under 71 on Saturday.
Earlier in the week week, the Chargers traveled to North Carolina to prepare for the spring season at Pinehurst Resort.
Home to the famous no. 2 course, which will host the 2019 U.S. Ameteur Championsip in August and recently hosted the U.S. Open Championship in 2014, Pinehurst Resort offers nine courses of challenging fairways and greens that helped the whole team get practice playing outdoors and putting on a real surface.
“The Pinehurst trip was great for the players to get outside and knock off the rust,” Gilchrist said.
The week kicked off the heart of the season for the Chargers, who will play at next week’s Findlay Invitational at the University of Kentucky Golf Club in Lexington, on Monday and Tuesday.