April 7, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois men’s golf team will travel to Texas to compete in Texas State’s Jim West Intercollegiate on Monday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 9. The Huskies, and the host Texas State Bobcats, are two of a dozen teams that will be playing TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, this week. The rest of the field includes Arkansas-Little Rock, Ball State, Campbell, FGCU, McNeese State, Oral Roberts, Stephen F. Austin State, TCU, UTSA, and Vanderbilt.
NIU enters the event on the heels of a “Florida Swing” where it played three of four events in the Sunshine State. TPC Craig Ranch is a wider, more sprawling layout than what is typically found in Florida courses. The Huskies are anticipating fewer in-course out-of-bounds stakes and increased confidence in turning to the driver.
“It’s a more visually appealing course for our guys like Bryce and Kurtis, who are longer than average,” head coach Tom Porten said. “We can better take advantage of that in Texas than in Florida. The trade-off is the wind; the winds are going to be as strong, or stronger. I like that challenge, and I think our players have no difficulty with the winds we face at Rich Harvest Farms.”
Last week, NIU placed 14th at the Florida Atlantic Spring Break Invitational. The team rebounded from a difficult start to the event to put together rounds of 301 and 305 to close the event – both lower than its season average. Redshirt senior Griffin Bauman (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) was NIU’s leader for the fourth time this season and the first this spring with his tie for 30th. His closing rounds of 73 and 74 moved both him up the leaderboard and lowered his scoring average to a team-best 75.5.
Freshman Connor Nelson (Roscoe, Ill./Hononegah) turned in the team’s second-best performance with a tie for 53rd. The event was Nelson’s first in the starting lineup, although he had competed as an individual in three events earlier in the season. The Hononegah High School product earned his way into this week’s lineup with the showing.
“Connor Nelson is coming off a very solid performance in his first tournament as a freshman,” Porten said. “We’re going to continue to give him more experience. We’ll see if he can’t go from a smaller golf course to handling a bigger golf course.”
Rounding out NIU’s lineup will be senior Bryce Emory (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy), senior Kurtis Luedtke (Aurora, Ill./West), and senior Matt Gorman (Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee). Emory will look to return to the form that produced him a fifth-place finish at the Forest Hills Collegiate last month. Luedtke tied for 56th at the Florida Atlantic Spring Break Invitational, bouncing back from a first-round 81 with rounds of 76 and 74.
Fans can follow the action with live scoring at GolfStat.com. NIU will tee off at 9:00 a.m., at TPC Craig Ranch, a former site of the Web.com Tour Championship.