Marquette off to rocky start after first spring tournament

The Marquette golf team didn’t start how it hoped to in Dade City, Fla., where it finished tied for 14th place out of 17 teams Tuesday in the USF Invitational.

While beating out fellow Midwest schools DePaul and Wisconsin, the Golden Eagles struggled to move up the leaderboard due to scattered errors throughout the tournament.

“We made too many mistakes,” Coach Steve Bailey said. “We made too many big numbers, too many doubles and we made a few triples. It’s so hard to climb back when you make those kinds of numbers. We just made a lot of bad decisions.

“We didn’t control our golf ball the way we needed too. Conditions were a little rough; it was a little windy, but there are no excuses at all.”

Despite nice individual rounds, none of the team’s five golfers were able to post consistently good scores through all three rounds.

Sophomore Adam Chester finished in the top spot for the Golden Eagles with an overall score of 225. That placed him in a tie for 34th on the individual leaderboard.

Chester said his play didn’t reflect his scorecards, as he suffered from some little mistakes that made all the difference.

“I felt I hit the ball as good as anyone, (but) unfortunately I didn’t quite capitalize on my chances,” Chester said. “There were just single holes that were very challenging. Even though the course was quite short, there were a lot of areas where if you hit it just a bit off the line, it would penalize you a lot.”

Freshman Nick Nelson led the Golden Eagles on Sunday with a one-under par 71 but followed it up with a 76 on Monday and an 80 on Tuesday. He would end up finishing second on the team and in a tie for 47th place individually.

“I putted really well the first day and was able to save myself from some pretty bad spots,” Nelson said. “But as I kept going, I kept putting myself in those bad spots, and eventually I couldn’t get myself out.”

Freshman Zach Gaugert went in the opposite direction, shooting a pair of 81s in the first and second rounds but finishing strong with a 74 to lead Marquette in the third round.

“I’m impressed with the way Zach Gaugert came back today after two below-average rounds,” Bailey said. “He showed some resiliency (Tuesday), finished two over and had an unfortunate double late.”

Bailey pointed out a few specific holes that gave the Golden Eagles the most trouble and kept them from building and maintaining confidence.

“Number one and number six in particular were the toughest par 4s out there,” Bailey said. “We had a hard time on number 10, the hole we started on, and weren’t able to get good positioning on it.

“When you aren’t accurate off the tee, you put yourself in bad positions, and especially on number 10, we positioned ourselves for a couple double-bogeys.”

With tournament competition now in full motion, the Golden Eagles will have most of spring break off before heading to Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., for the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular Saturday March 16.