Evan O’Kelly, MSUB Athletics
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Saving his best round for last, Montana State University Billings men’s golf freshman Garrett Woodin carded a 4-under-par 68 on Tuesday at Palm Valley Golf Club, to push himself into a tie for 16th place at the Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational.
Woodin’s strong performance helped the Yellowjacket men jump four places between days, as MSUB finished in 14th place among the field of 20 with a three-round team score of 883 (297-295-291). “Overall I was pleased that we were able to lower our team score again,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “The guys battled hard throughout the day, and it was for the most part a consistent showing.”
Woodin finished with a three-round score of 1-under-par 215 (75-72-68), improving steadily throughout the event. “The key for Garrett was that he played the par-5 holes at 3-under today, and he put together a spectacular round,” said Coach Woodin. “He started off really strong, and that gave him a lot of momentum throughout the day.”
Starting on the back-nine, Woodin saved a stroke on the 225-yard 12th hole as he chipped in for birdie from just in front of the green. He followed with a wedge shot to 10 feet on the very next hole, and sunk the putt to get his score below par right away.
Woodin had just one bogey on Tuesday, combatting it with five birdies to give him 11 total on the tournament. He finished with a 4-under-par 32 on a clean back-nine, and was only over par on two nines at the event.
Fellow freshman Caleb Stetzner was the next highest finisher for the ‘Jackets, tying for 39th place with a three-round total of 3-over-par 219 (72-74-73). Stetzner overcame a slow start Tuesday, as he notched a 3-over-par 39 over his first nine holes. The freshman carded three birdies to close the tournament however, helping keep his score low with a 2-under-par 34 over his final nine holes.
“I was really proud of Caleb for battling back, and he had a great birdie to end his round on the final hole,” Woodin commented on a 20-foot putt Stetzner drained on the par-4, 410-yard eighth hole.
Stetzner led MSUB with 13 birdies overall over the two-day event, and had no more than four holes above par in any given round.
Senior Michael Porter and sophomore Austin Walter tied for 65th place, each turning in a scorecard of 225 (76-74-75). Porter played consistently throughout his three rounds, making just one double-bogey among his 54 holes. Walter had a string of three-straight birdies for the second day in-a-row, saving three strokes on holes 4-through-6 and playing the front-nine at even-par 36 on Tuesday. Like Porter, Walter showed consistency with just three holes above bogey at the tournament.
Tying for 91st place was senior Connor Miele, whose four birdies in his final round were his most in a round at the tournament. He wound up with a three-round total of 232 (81-75-76).
BYU-Hawaii held onto its lead after Day 1, and claimed the team title with a three-round score of 852 (284-282-286). BYUH held off second-place Cal State East Bay by three strokes, as the Pioneers finished with a score of 855 (285-291-279). CSUEB’s Adam Stone tied George Markham of Colorado School of Mines for medalist honors, with each player shooting a 10-under-par 206.
Fellow Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams Western Washington University and Saint Martin’s University also participated in the event, with the Vikings taking fifth place at 864 (288-285-291) and the Saints finishing in seventh at 868 (289-293-286).
“It will be nice to have a couple weeks off before the GNAC tournament and fine tune some things,” said Woodin after the team’s final regular-season event. “I think our squad has improved this spring, and we are really excited about the GNAC Championships later this month.”
THE BUZZ: Woodin was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…among the three GNAC teams at the tournament, Woodin tied for the third-best individual score…Woodin’s 68 was a personal season-best.
AHEAD: MSUB will next be in action at the 2017 GNAC Championships, running April 24-25 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational
Palm Valley Golf Club | Goodyear, Arizona
Final Results | April 4, 2017
Team – 1. BYU-Hawaii, 852 (284-282-286); 14. MSU Billings, 883 (297-295-291). Individuals – T1. Adam Stone, CSUEB, 206 (69-67-70); T1. George Markham, CSM, 206 (71-68-67); T16. Garrett Woodin, MSUB, 215 (75-72-68); T39. Caleb Stetzner, MSUB, 219 (72-74-73); T65. Michael Porter, MSUB, 225 (76-74-75); T65. Austin Walter, MSUB, 225 (74-76-75); T91. Connor Miele, MSUB, 232 (81-75-76).