April 20, 2012
DEKALB, Ill. -- The Northern Illinois men's golf team is set to make its fifth consecutive appearance Purdue's Boilermaker Invitational on Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22.
"The team is pumped up for the last regular season meet of the year," said NIU head coach Tom Porten. "This is probably the best field we have competed in this spring and we are going to have our work cut out for ourselves. It's a big golf course, similar to what we saw at Missouri and our home course at Rich Harvest, so we think that will be good for our preparation for the conference championship."
A field of fifteen schools are slated to tee off this weekend in West Lafayette, including six fellow Mid-American Conference programs joining NIU in their final tune ups before heading the MAC Championships next month at Rich Harvest Farms. Akron, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, No. 35 Illinois, No. 43 Indiana, No. 25 Iowa, IUPUI, No. 21 Kent State, Michigan State, Miami (Ohio), No. 48 Purdue, No. 34 TCU, Toledo, and No. 30 Wichita State make up the full field at the Boliermaker Invitational.
"We had a good practice despite the rain today," said Porten. "The key in this tournament will be off the tee. The rough is long and thick so it will be very important to keep the ball in the fairway."
The team makes the trip on the heels of a fourth-place tie at the Mizzou Intercollegiate. Leading the lineup in Columbia was junior Kurtis Luedtke (Aurora, Ill./West), who tied for eighth in his top performance of the season. The Aurora, Ill. product produced a trio of 73s en route to his first career top-10 finish. Luedtke has improved each week of the spring campaign thus far, lowering his score from ten-over-par at the Rio Pinar Invitational down to three over at Missouri. Last season, Luedtke tied for 25th at Purdue.
Griffin Bauman (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) will be playing his seventh competitive round at the course when play begins on Saturday after playing there the previous two seasons. Bauman posted a strong 11th-place showing last year, shooting all 74s. Bauman enters the event having turned in top 20s in two of his last three starts.
Huskie scoring leader Bryce Emory (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) is the third NIU golfer on head coach Tom Porten's lineup card this week who played the course last year. The junior retains possession of the number one position for NIU this week as he (74.2) battles Luedtke (75.0) and Bauman (74.8) for the team's season scoring average title down the stretch. Though Emory has cooled off in recent weeks, the Marmion Academy alumnus tied Luedtke in 25th place at Purdue in 2011.
The Huskies bucked the trend of unfavorable showings at this Pete Dye design when they claimed fourth place last April. Temperatures are forecasted in the mid-50s this weekend when NIU will aim top that finish at Purdue's annual event. The event will begin with a shotgun start 7:45 a.m. CT on Saturday, the Huskies will be paired with Illinois and TCU on the first day of the tournament.