Loomis, freshman Murlick shine for Marquette men’s golf

After two days and 54 holes of golf, the dust has settled at the Marquette Intercollegiate. Led by an outstanding 1-under-par tournament score from freshman Matt Murlick, the Golden Eagles finished sixth in the ten-team tournament field.

“I wish (our play) could have been a bit more steady,” head coach Steve Bailey said. “Overall, a really good field, and we beat some good teams. And a few of those teams above us, they’ll be pretty highly-ranked at the end of the year.”

Marquette hosted its annual home tournament at a new venue this year. For the last three years, the Golden Eagles have used Erin Hills for their showcase event but were forced to relocate due to scheduling of the 2017 US Open at the course. This year’s competition took place at Milwaukee Country Club in River Hills, Wisconsin.

“Milwaukee Country Club was a great host, a phenomenal venue, and it played a good test,” Bailey said.

First round scoring on day one was significantly impacted by the weather. Heavy rain littered the course for most of the morning, resulting in an average score nearly two points higher than rounds two and three.

“Weather yesterday was a little choppy,” Bailey said. “But all the teams really embraced the crappy conditions.”

By mid-afternoon, the rain began to subside. With a drier, faster course, the opportunity was there for some low scores. Surprisingly, it was two freshmen who took advantage of the afternoon session for the Golden Eagles.

Playing as an individual, Matt Bachmann strung together three birdies on the back nine of round two for the second lowest score of the two-day event for Marquette, a 68. In just two other collegiate appearances, Bachmann has averaged a 75.60.

The other freshman Matt, Matt Murlick, also excelled during the second round of play. After registering a 3-over par round earlier, the Illinois native found his groove on the greens. Consistent putting was the key for Murlick, who tallied just two bogeys in the second round and finished with a 69.

“For our freshmen to play like they did. … Overall we are going to take a lot of positives from this,” Bailey said.

Murlick’s fantastic play carried over into round three. With the sun shining, he posted a 2-under 33 on the front nine with zero bogeys. After back-to-back bogeys on No. 14 and No. 15, Murlick’s putter came to the rescue.

On the long 232-yard, par-3 17th hole, he bent in a lengthy left-to-right putt from about 70 feet away to come away with the birdie. It was a magnificent putt from the freshman, who expertly read the green speed. Then on No. 18, the freshman sank another birdie from distance to secure his first sub-par tournament score.

“To have that type of performance only three tournaments into his college career, I’m really happy for him,” coach Bailey said. “He’s just steady, he doesn’t hit very far but his putter was really working. … He kept it in the fairway.”

Despite being one of the youngest players on the squad, Murlick came into the tournament with the second-best stroke average at 73.3. After this two-day performance, expect to see his face in the starting roster more often.

Another bright spot for the Golden Eagles during this tournament was the play of Garrett Loomis. The junior was a model of consistency throughout all three rounds, posting a 70, 71 and 71, respectively. He registered only eight bogeys combined between Sunday and Monday to finish 2-over par.

“A big stride for him, he’s kind of been in-and-out of the lineup the last few years,” Bailey said.”He really put a lot of work in the last couple of weeks and it paid off.”

Despite high quality performances from Murlick and Loomis, the other three golfers chosen for team play had their share of struggles. Reigning BIG EAST Men’s Golfer of the Week Oliver Farrell finished at 10-over par after tallying six bogeys in the third round. Ferdinand Muller (+14) and Charlie Maleki (+16) couldn’t seem to string any birdies together.

It would have taken a heroic effort from the entire team to catch Northwestern, the eventual winners. The Wildcats finished with a team score of 4-under par on the entire tournament, five shots ahead of second-place Ole Miss.

“We had some bright spots in patches, the key for us is being a little more consistent,” Bailey said.

He cited the team’s iron play as the biggest weakness throughout the tournament, but applauded his team’s ability to putt.

The Golden Eagles will play their third tournament in a row next weekend when they head to Chicago for the Northern Intercollegiate.