(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Each posting the lowest three-round total of their Montana State University Billings men’s golf careers on Tuesday at Palm Valley Golf Club, seniors Riley Kaercher and Riley Lawrence led the way in the final round of the RJGA Palm Valley Classic.
Kaercher was the top finisher among the three Great Northwest Athletic Conference schools competing at the event, as he shot a three-round score of 214 (70-75-69) including a 3-under-par 69 in his final round on Tuesday to tie for 10th place. “I felt good with all parts of my game today,” said Kaercher. “I hit a lot of fairways with my driver, which gave me a lot of opportunities to attack some pins. I missed a couple of short putts, but made up for it with some long putts.”
Lawrence finished just one stroke behind Kaercher, posting a three-round total of 215 (71-70-74) to tie for 16th place. “Today we did a great job of focusing on the shot in front of us, which led to one of our best rounds as a team,” said Lawrence. “The team is getting better every day, and I like the trend we are on. We have a week and a half until the GNAC tourney, and we are shifting all our focus to it as we are looking for our first championship.”
The Yellowjackets finished in the middle of the 17-team field, placing 11th with a three-round score of 873 (291-295-287) which included a season-best single-round score of 287 on Tuesday. “This was a great final round to end our regular season,” said MSUB head coach Adam Buie. “We poured in several birdies to finish, and our guys are playing well at the right time.”
Kaercher’s best tournament score of his five-year college career featured nothing worse than a bogey, which he was able to combat by making 13 birdies to finish the event at 2-under-par. Kaercher’s final round of 69 – one stroke off his collegiate single-round best – featured five birdies and just two bogeys, and he finished the event on fire at 3-under par over his final 11 holes. Kaercher’s 13 birdies were tied for seventh most among the field of 98 players.
Lawrence managed to finish the event below par as well, using birdies on his final two holes to wrap up at 1-under-par for the week. Lawrence limited his mistakes to nothing worse than a bogey on Tuesday, and finished the tournament with six birdies, an eagle, and just seven bogeys throughout his 54 holes. “I hit some really good shots and I still need to clean some shots up, but overall I felt good about how I played,” said Lawrence.
Senior Caleb Trost had his best round of the event on Tuesday, finishing with an even-par 72 during a round that included five birdies. Like Lawrence, Trost birdied his final two holes of the event and finished with nine birdies and an eagle over the three rounds. Trost tied for 50th place, posting a three-round total of 222 (74-76-72). “I hit my driver very well today, and I rarely missed the fairway,” said Trost. “I am really pleased with how the team finished the round, and everyone played great down the last few holes. I think that our finish today gives the team a lot of confidence heading into GNACs.”
Dawson Strobel was the only player in the field to make multiple eagles, as he saved two strokes on the par-5, 525-yard 14th hole for the second straight day on Tuesday. One miscue – a triple bogey on Hole 17 – disrupted an otherwise very smooth round for Strobel, who carded a 2-over-par 74 and a three-round total of 224 (76-74-74) to tie for 59th place.
Blake Finn saved his best round of the tournament for last, posting an even-par 72 to move up nine spots on the leaderboard and tie for 72nd place with a three-round total of 228 (77-79-72). Three of Finn’s four birdies on Tuesday came during a 2-under-par 34 on the front-nine, and he finished the event with seven total birdies.
Midwestern State’s Jake Doggett claimed medalist honors with a three-round score of 206 (67-70-69), holding off second-place Joey Geary of Western New Mexico by a single stroke. Midwestern State cruised to the team title with a three-round score of 844 (279-282-283), topping Colorado State-Pueblo by a convincing 12 strokes.
The 2022 GNAC Championships await the Yellowjacket men who travel to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho April 18-19 at the CDA Resort Golf Course.
“The GNAC event is going to be an exciting tournament,” Buie said. “We are all very happy to be going back to Coeur d’Alene, and I cannot wait to see what we do. We have a good chance of playing well and competing for the title.”
RJGA Palm Valley Classic
Final Results – April 5, 2022
Palm Valley Golf Club – Goodyear, Arizona
Team – 1. Midwestern State, 844 (279-282-283); 11. MSU Billings, 873 (291-295-287). Individuals – 1. Jake Doggett, Midwestern State, 206 (67-70-69); T10. Riley Kaercher, MSUB, 214 (70-75-69); T16. Riley Lawrence, MSUB, 215 (71-70-74); T50. Caleb Trost, MSUB, 222 (74-76-72); T59. Dawson Strobel, MUB, 224 (76-74-74); T72. Blake Finn, MSUB, 228 (77-79-72).