Weekend results on links encouraging

Senior Kelly Kretz finished the FAU Spring Break Championship at 2-over par. Photo Courtesy of Marquette Images.

Stroke after stroke and round after round, the men’s golf team continued its improvement after its best finish of the season, tying for eighth during the annual FAU Spring Break Championship.

This has also been its best finish in its three years at the Delray Beach, Fla., competition.

After Friday’s first round, the Golden Eagles found themselves in 13th place. They moved up to 12th after a second round score of 296 and then proceeded to finish tied for eighth after a third-round 292, to rocket themselves four strokes ahead of Northwestern, who placed 11th (898).

The men really wanted to pull away from the No. 33 ranked Wildcats, said assistant coach David Merkow. Coach Steve Bailey previously coached Northwestern where Merkow also played.

“The guys had the chip on their shoulder to try and beat them today,” Merkow said.

Individually, freshman Michael Motz had a strong tournament as he tied for 36th, the highest finish of his Marquette career.

“Both today and this entire week, it’s been great to see Motz play a bit better,” Merkow said.

With a final score of 222 (73-75-74) after three rounds, Motz said he took a step in the right direction, but is not fully satisfied.

“You really have to be on top of your game every week to compete,” he said.

Working on consistency and “fine-tuning” his game are some of his goals for the rest of the season, Motz said.

Despite placing fifth on the team three consecutive times over the course of the year, Motz finished just below senior Kelly Kretz.

Usually the team’s top golfer, Kretz broke his 11-round streak of scoring at or below par and ended the weekend 2-over par, but still recorded 11 birdies in the process.

Kretz, who finished the Spring Break Championship last season tied at 25th, placed 19th this year.

Senior Ben Sieg finished the tournament in 52nd place at 226 (80-73-73), struggling during Friday’s first round at 8-over par. His putting was key throughout the weekend.

“I let the bad shots get out of control, but I started playing a lot better (Sunday),” Sieg said.

Sieg, who tied at 44th on March 15 at the Rio Pinar Invitational, let his mistakes get to him the first two rounds but was able to overcome that to finish 10-over par for the weekend, he said.

Taking a birdie on his first hole of the third round built Sieg’s momentum for the rest of the day. He tallied eight birdies total.

There were times when the team’s shots weren’t perfect, Merkow said, but he was proud with the team’s overall play.

The weekend ended as a success compared to the men’s 17th and 14th place finishes in other tournaments this spring.