Men’s golf claims second spring title in Ralph Hargett Invite


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Madeleine Smith, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s men’s golf team brought home another invitational title at the Ralph Hargett Invite last week to claim their second win in their first two invites of the spring season following a victory in the Buccaneer Classic March 6-7.

Shooting one under par as a team, and finishing 19-strokes ahead of the runner-up, the Ralph Hargett win (March 20-21) was led by senior Charles DeLong who clinched his 10th career win with the Lakers and is now ranked No. 2 in the nation out of the 150-total players listed in the GolfStat NCAA DII individual rankings.

With three rounds played in total, the Lakers maintained a six-shot lead (+4) over the then second-place Shorter University after round one of action, and would still hold the lead after round two as they extended their cushion to an 11-stroke advantage (+1) over the once tied Flagler College and Wingate University (second place, +12). 

Overall, day one featured solid placing by the Lakers across the board with DeLong in second place after the first two rounds (-6), trailing only one point behind the tournament leader. Sophomore Nick Krueger (ranked No. 21 by Golfstat) found himself in a four-way tie for fifth place (-1), and freshman Bryce Wheeler helped keep the team in the running as he placed in a three-way tie for 11th overall (+1).

As the momentum seemed to be in favor for GVSU heading into day two and the third and final round of the invite, sophomore Drew Coble (No. 102 overall in GolfStat ranking) said the mindset for the entire tournament was to focus on each individual hole as they came.

“I wouldn’t say our game plan changed at all this week,” Coble said. “We have stuck to one shot at a time and just focus on what you can control.”

Head Coach Gary Bissell knows better than to believe a comfortable lead is safe, especially when it comes to a technical sport like golf. Bissell said that even with a high-stroke lead like the one GVSU had going into the final round, the pressure actually intensifies when it comes to closing out the match with a victory.

“A ten shot lead in golf is a really tough lead to play with because it’s big enough to make you feel somewhat safe,” Bissell said. “But it’s also a lead that can diminish in a matter of three or four holes quite honestly.”

Day two would finally arrive, and after the final round, GVSU would ultimately secure their second title of the spring after four of the five Lakers either improved or tied their best performance out of all three rounds. DeLong matched his second-round score with another 68 on the scorecard, Krueger shot his best round with a score of 69, Wheeler dipped below his average with 79 (71 best score, second round), Coble tied his second-round score (75) and Cooley saved his best for last with a score of 74 in the third round.

Overall, all five Lakers would finish in the top 50 of 95-total players: DeLong (first, -10), Krueger (tied third overall, -4), Wheeler (five-way tie for 25th overall, +8), Coble (five-way tie for 33rd place, +10) and freshman Charlie Cooley (tied 43rd, +13).

“It takes great play top to bottom (to win),” Bissell said. “You need a horse up front, which we definitely have in Charlie DeLong. (However) at this level, you can’t win with just two or three guys – you need five good players.” 

The Argonaut Invitational is up next for GVSU (April 3-4) as the team will head to Florida to hopefully add onto their momentum built early this season.