Rush, GVSU men’s golf capture top finish at Music City Golf Invitational

GVL / Archive - Alex Nannetti looks at this hit during practice on March 29, 2016 in Allendale.


GVL / Archive – Alex Nannetti looks at this hit during practice on March 29, 2016 in Allendale.

Robbie Triano

For a team that has finished in the top-five in their first three spring invitationals, the Grand Valley State men’s golf team has seen early results from its youthful roster.

The Lakers can add another notch in their resume after capturing a first place finish at the Music City Golf Invitational and third regional of the season in Nashville Monday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 4. Coach Gary Bissell said this was the team’s necessary first step in the quest of emerging as a top contender.

“This is a big step for a young team that’s loaded with talent,” Bissell said. “I believe we’re the best team in this region, but we’re just learning how to win. We want to win every week, but that’s not how the sport of golf works. It was good to get one under our belts.”

GVSU finished with a team score of 571, which was the lowest total in the 24-team invitational. Runner-up Indianapolis finished only three points behind the Lakers.

“We played pretty darn well and only won by three shots,” Bissell said. “One thing that this experience showed is that we need to keep ourselves humble.”

The Lakers finished round one with a total stroke count of 290 and tied in second place with Indianapolis. McKendree University sat in first with a team score of 287. Alex Scott was GVSU’s leader for the day with a round score of 69, placing himself third individually.

Round two was a much different story for the Lakers—in a good way.

Led by a career and tournament-best round score of 66 by freshman Owen Rush, the Lakers finished the day with a invitational best team score of 281 to clinch the first place victory. Although it was only Rush’s second career collegiate event, he believes this was the first of many performances he hopes to have while wearing Laker blue.

“I was really hitting my shots and giving myself good opportunities each hole,” Rush said. “I know I have what it takes to prove myself on this team, so I had to stay in the zone and remain consistent.”

Bissell was pleased with Rush’s ability to not let his success get to his head.

“Owen is not scared when he’s playing under par,” Bissell said. “It’s hard to find 18 to 20 year olds like that. Golf is one of those things where you can be scared when playing well, and when he’s good, he’s great.”

Consistency was a major factor in the Lakers’ victory as all five starters’ total scores remained within five strokes of each other. Senior Alex Nannetti was the top Laker scorer with a 70-73-143, finishing tied for the third-best individual score. Scott finished tied for sixth overall (69-75-144).

Other GVSU notables were Rush (79-66-145), sophomore Bryce Messner (75-70-145) and junior Domenic Mancinelli (76-72-148).

“Our calling card is our consistency and separating ourselves from the rest of the field,” Bissell said. “No matter how good you are, what separates the good teams from the great ones is sealing it down the stretch.”

The Lakers have only made the national tournament twice in school history. Rush believes this invitational win will provide his team enough wind to finish the season strong.

“It’s really giving us some great momentum,” Rush said. “But we have a lot of work to do to stay in this moment. The success feels good right now, but we have to realize this season is a marathon, not a sprint.”

The Lakers hope to keep the momentum during their season’s fourth regional in Noblesville, Indiana Sunday, April 9, and Monday, April 10.