March 28, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois men’s golf team will make its third appearance in as many years at Florida Atlantic’s Spring Break Championship this weekend. The tournament begins Friday, March 29 and runs through Sunday, March 31 in Lake Worth, Fla., at The Fountains Country Club.
The Huskies are one of 16 schools set to compete on the par-71, 6,876-yard North Course, including fellow MAC program Miami (Ohio). Joining the Huskies, RedHawks, and host Florida Atlantic will be Bethune-Cookman, Central Florida, Connecticut, DePaul, Florida Gulf Coast, Hartford, Jacksonville State, Loyola-Chicago, Marshall, McNeese State, Morehead State, Murray State and Stetson.
“We’re going back to a place where we played well last year,” said NIU head coach Tom Porten. “We have a chance to bounce back from a tough performance last week. A lot of the same teams will be down there, with a few wrinkles. The best team in the field, Central Florida, is a perennial top-25 team, and is certainly the favorite going in. But we feel like, with our third-place last year, we can’t wait to get off the plane.”
Last year, NIU finished third with a one-over-par 853, the score was the Huskies’ second-best raw total since 1980. The two schools that finished ahead of the Huskies last season, Florida State and Ohio State, are not in this year’s field.
Three players from last year’s starting lineup at The Fountains Country Club will be making the trip again this time around, redshirt senior Griffin Bauman (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central), senior Bryce Emory (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) and senior Kurtis Luedtke (Aurora, Ill./West). Bauman tied for 11th in 2012, putting together a string of 71-70-71 to finish at one under. The former Crystal Lake Central Tiger tied for 85th last week at the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular, but Porten expects him to have a bounce-back performance in Lake Worth, Fla.
“Griffin played very well [last year],” Porten said. “He has a history of playing well in Florida, so I look for him to bounce back from that. I think it was an outlier last week in Orlando.”
Emory tied for 30th last year at five-over 218. His tournament included an even-par 71 in the second round. Like Bauman, Emory will be looking to rebound from his three rounds at Mission Inn’s Las Colinas course; he finished in a tie for 60th.
Luedtke wraps up the trio of Huskies who have challenged The Fountains in the past. The Aurora native posted a seven-over 220 en route to a tie for 40th. Luedtke also fared the best of the Huskies who played last week, securing a tie for 47th. He will look to continue a strong spring that has included a top-10 at the Forest Hills Collegiate and a 3-0 record at the Mid-American Conference Match Play event.
Sophomore Nick Schiavi (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) and freshman Connor Nelson (Roscoe, Ill./Hononegah) round out Porten’s lineup card. Schiavi returns to the lineup after missing the Mission Inn trip. Nelson makes his first starting lineup after playing the previous two events as an individual.
“Connor has been getting a little bit better each time he’s played,” Porten said. “Now he’s ready to go in there and see if he can’t help our team win.”
NIU will tee off its first and second rounds at 7:30 a.m. CT, Friday and Saturday, respectively. The team will wrap up the event with a 7:00 a.m. CT tee time on Sunday. Fans can track the live action at GolfStat.com.