(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
HUMBLE, Texas – Wrapping up its first tournament of the 2022 spring season on Tuesday at Golf Club of Houston, the Montana State University Billings men’s golf team took 11th place at the Houston Classic hosted by Southern Nazarene University.
The Yellowjackets finished their final round of the event shooting a team score of 307, and completed the three-round tournament with a score of 929 (317-305-307). “The guys got to experience a big event at a tough course this week, and we held our own,” said MSUB head coach Adam Buie. “Playing that course will definitely make us better, and it helped us identify things that we need to work on for the rest of the spring.”
Caleb Trost was the Yellowjackets’ top performer, tying for 24th place among a field of 87 competitors with a three-round score of 226 (81-73-72). The senior saved his best round for last, carding an even-par 72 Tuesday on the par-72, 6,945-yard course layout. Trost’s worst hole of the day – a double bogey on the par-4, 410-yard 18th hole – was followed by his best effort of the tournament. He quickly shook off the miscue and ripped through the front-nine at 2-under-par 34 to rescue his round back to even-par. Trost made four birdies on Tuesday, and led the Yellowjackets with nine total at the event. “The biggest strength of my game today was my putting,” said Trost, who needed just 24 putts to get through his round. “After my double on 18 I just tried to mentally reset and finish strong. My best shot of the day was on Hole 7, where I hit it to three feet with an 8-iron from 150 yards out.”
Like Trost, fellow senior Riley Lawrence bounced back from a tough opening round and finished in the top half of the field tied for 41st with a score of 231 (84-74-73). Lawrence offset three bogeys with a pair of birdies on Tuesday, as he limited his errors on the way to a 1-over-par 73. Lawrence had just one score worse than a bogey among his 54 holes of golf, and totaled six birdies throughout the three rounds.
Blake Finn finished in a tie for 49th place, posting a three-round score of 235 (73-80-82). Finn wrestled his way to an 82 on Tuesday, and finished strong with a birdie on his final hole of the event – the par-3, 212-yard ninth. Finn finished with seven birdies, three of which came during his opening-round 1-over-par 73 on Monday.
“Blake had a strong opening round in spite of the wind, and Riley Lawrence bounced back nicely after a tough first round,” said Buie. “It was great to see Caleb get a top-25 finish within a loaded field of players.”
Senior Riley Kaercher was next on the leaderboard for MSUB, finishing in a tie for 65th place with a 242 (84-78-80). Kaercher’s final round featured a pair of birdies, and he finished with no worse than a bogey over his final 12 holes of the tournament. Kevin Kolb concluded his tournament by making par of 8 of 9 holes on the front-nine on Tuesday, and tied for 69th place with a 245 (79-81-85).
Francois Jacobs of Arkansas Tech made a birdie on a playoff hole, breaking a three-way tie with his teammate Santiago De La Fuente and Central Oklahoma’s Evan Griffith to capture the individual title. All three players finished the tournament at 3-under-par 213. Arkansas Tech ran away with the team title at 4-under-par 860 (293-281-286), topping second-place Oklahoma Christian by 24 strokes.
“This was likely the hardest course we will play all year, so we feel like we are battle tested and ready now,” Buie said. “The men have just about a month before heading to California to play in another good regional event at Poppy Ridge.”
The Yellowjackets head back to practice for the next month, as they prepare for the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawk Invitational on March 7-8 in Livermore, Calif.
Final Results – February 8, 2022
Golf Club of Houston – Humble, Texas
Team – 1. Arkansas Tech, 860 (293-281-286); 11. MSU Billings, 929 (317-305-307). Individual – T1. Francois Jacobs*, Arkansas Tech, 213 (71-74-68); T1. Evan Griffith, Central Oklahoma, 213 (66-73-74); T1. Santiago De La Fuente, Arkansas Tech, 213 (75-65-73); T24. Caleb Trost, MSUB, 226 (81-73-72); T41. Riley Lawrence, MSUB, 231 (84-74-73); T49. Blake Finn, MSUB, 235 (73-80-82); T65. Riley Kaercher, MSUB, 242 (84-78-80); T69. Kevin Kolb, MSUB, 245 (79-81-85).
*-won playoff hole to claim individual medalist honors.