Golf

The No. 1 Emory men’s golf team maintained its promising first-place standing at the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational on Oct. 14-16. They finished first in the tournament with a total score of 10 under 842 for the three rounds of 18-hole play at the Raven Golf Club in Sandestin, Fla.

The Eagles dominated the first round on Oct. 14 with a score of 12-under par 272.

“We started on the back nine [holes] which is probably a little easier,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said. “[Holes] 10 to 12 especially were strong. We took advantage of a couple of the easier holes.”

The team’s solid start in the first round added to the list of strong performances from the Eagles this season.

“We had a pretty good start to the season, so we were pretty confident going into the final tournament of the season,” sophomore Eric Yiu said.

Former teammate Keenan Hickton (18B) helped the team achieve strong scores on the first day of action.

“[Hickton] … was walking with me on the back nine, and he helped me a lot [advising on shots],” Yiu said.

But in the second round on Oct. 15, the Eagles had to navigate some minor mishaps.

“I was feeling pretty good until the last hole where I just hit two shots into the water where I shot a nine on a par four,” Yiu said. “My teammates did a good job to maintain relatively low scores.”

Although the Eagles slipped in the second round by shooting eight-over par 292, they still maintained a six-shot lead going into the third round on Oct. 16. The Eagles finished the final round with a score of six under par 278 and finished the tournament with an overall first-place score of 10 under par 842, a program record for a 64-hole tournament.

“[The victory] just validates the effort [the team] put in this fall,” Sjoberg said. “We’ve averaged under par for the entire season which is crazy good. It’s great to see the guys get rewarded.”

The Eagles finished the tournament nine shots ahead of runner-up Huntingdon College (Ala.) (289-281-281-851) and 14 shots ahead of Southwestern University (Texas) (282-292-282-856). The strong finish came down to the Eagles feeding off of each other’s strong performances throughout the rounds.

“It’s important to have trust in your teammates,” Yiu said. “They pick four out of five [players’] scores to be counted, so you have to know that your teammates are out there for you.”

Freshman Logan Ryan led Emory in the final round with a score of four-under 67 and also over the course of the invitational with a five-under par 208 (67-74-67), the program’s second-best individual mark ever in a three-round tournament. Junior Matt Organisak scored below par for the second time over the three days and finished with a two-under par 69 that left him at three-under 210, good for seventh place in the tournament.

“There’s five really good golfers on our team, and I know the other guys will have my back,” Organisak said. “That allows us to focus on ourselves and stay patient even if things aren’t going well.”

Senior Connor Yakubov and Yiu both shot even par 71 and finished tied for 12th place overall at even-par 213. Junior Sam Galloway finished with a final round of 75 and 221 overall.

After this impressive victory, the Eagles have high hopes for the rest of the season.

“We just have to keep doing the same things that we’ve been doing and working hard and getting better every day,” Organisak said. “We know if we have trust in each other and keep getting better, there’s no one out there that can beat us.

The Eagles will finish the fall portion of their schedule on Oct. 22 and 23 at the Chick-fil-A Collegiate Invitational at the Stonebridge Golf Club in Rome, Ga.

The No. 1 Emory men’s golf team finished second in the 28th Annual Gordin Classic in Ohio by reaching second place overall through two rounds of the 54-hole event on Oct. 1. The team stayed consistent in the final round on Oct. 2 to maintain their runner-up position.

The Eagles started the event on Oct. 1 by scoring a respectable 286 (two shots under par) over the first 18 holes. On the same day, the team followed the performance with an 18-hole round score of 291 to close out the day of action at a score of 577, which was good for one over par.

Freshman Logan Ryan led the way for the Eagles through the first two rounds on Monday. Ryan shot a three under score of 141 (70-71), tying him for fourth in the 70-player field. Right behind Ryan, junior Matt Organisak finished tied for 11th with a one under score of 143 (70-73), while junior Sam Galloway finished the second round tied for 20th with a two over par score of 146 (71-75).

“[Ryan and Organisak] played really well,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said. “[Ryan] shot six under par and [Organisak] was five under over 54 holes, that’s fantastic on a really good golf course.”

Through the first day, sophomore Eric Yiu (75-72-147) and senior Connor Yakubov (78-75-153) rounded out the Eagles. Yiu’s performance put him tied for 28th in the field, and Yakubov tied for 46th in the competition.

“Playing 36 holes is hard,” Sjoberg said. “Illinois Wesleyan separated themselves in the first three holes of the second round.”

The Eagles played the final round of the Gordin Classic on Oct. 2. The team put up their best round of the event with a score of 279 which placed them second overall behind Illinois Wesleyan. The Eagles finished 11 strokes ahead of No. 3 Guilford College (N.C.) with a score of eight under par.

The Eagles started the final round hot out of the gate thanks to Yakubov’s efforts.

“[Yabukov] just got off to just such a fast start,” Sjoberg said. “He was our first one out. The guys might have just felt that momentum coming out of the gate.”

Despite having the strongest showing of any team in the third round with a score of nine under par for the day, the deficit with Illinois Wesleyan proved too much to overcome thanks to the lead they had built over the first two rounds. However, there were still many important takeaways from the Eagles’ overall impressive second place showing at the event.

“Going to Pittsburgh next week [will be the] same setup [36 holes in one day] as this event,” Sjoberg said. “[We need to] give ourselves opportunities to shoot good scores and not [let] a bad shot affect us.”

The Eagles return to action on Oct. 8 at the Tartan Invitational at the Laurel Valley Golf Course in Pittsburgh.  

The No. 2 Emory men’s golf team finished first at the 54-hole NCAA Fall Preview at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., on Sept. 17 and 18. Meanwhile, the B Team struggled at the 36-hole Tri-Match at Barnsley Gardens Resort in Adairsville, Ga., on Sept. 24, placing last out of three teams.  

At the Fall Preview, the Eagles finished first out of 17 high-ranked teams with a final team score of 866. Junior Matt Organisak finished runner-up with a final score of 215, and sophomore Eric Yiu and senior Conner Yakubov both scored an even par of 216, tying for third place. Organisak, Yiu and Yakubov each earned a spot on the D-III Preview All-Tournament Team.

“To be able to play that well in the first event of the year is a nice way to start,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said of the Eagles’ performance.

A week later, the B Team finished with a final team score of 625 (311, 314), falling behind second-place Oglethorpe University (Ga.), who had a total score of 622 points, and first-place Berry College (Ga.) with 615 total points.

Senior Anthony Muscato led the Eagles with an individual score of 153 (74-79) and tied for third out of 19 players. Freshman Andrew DiPetrillo appeared next on the leaderboard, scoring a total of 156 (79-77), placing him in seventh.

Junior Leo Rich, who finished 171 (91-80), acknowledged the difficulty of the course.

“The course was very tough,” Rich said. “The greens were as fast as anything you’ll see in the state of Georgia.”  

Senior Stefano Butti, sophomore Davis Hingtgen and freshman Max Schwarz also competed in the match, finishing 79-79-158, 79-81-160 and 84-79-163, respectively.

“Even though we didn’t play as well as we would have liked, anytime our team is playing competitively, we’re learning and improving,” Rich said.

Sjoberg agreed, adding that the team has room to improve.

“The tri-match was a nice opportunity to get some guys a couple of rounds,” Sjoberg said. “There is plenty to work on, and several things were picked up during the two rounds. We played really well in short stretches. Now we need to bring that to a complete round.”

The Eagles return to action on Oct. 1 and 2 in Columbus, Ohio, when they compete in the 54-hole Gordin Classic at the Columbus Country Club.   

“The team is as good as I’ve ever seen of any team in Division III in my two-plus years here, and I’m really excited to see what’s in store for us as the year goes on”, Rich said.

For Head Women’s Golf Coach Katie Futcher, the inaugural season of Emory’s newly christened team is less than a year away. In the meantime, she has travelled nationwide, aiming to connect with about 15 potential students every week. She has already visited Connecticut, Maine, California and Oregon to do so. This month alone she plans to travel to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Colorado and Washington to continue building a team for the Fall 2019 season.

In July, Emory announced Futcher as the head coach for the newly established women’s golf program, the first sports team added to Emory’s roster in 20 years.

Futcher joined Emory after a year on James Madison College’s (Mich.) golf coaching staff, where she served as an assistant and later interim head coach. She also spent one year as a volunteer coach at Pennsylvania State University, her alma mater. Futcher started coaching after a nine-year career in the LPGA.

The women’s golf team will begin its inaugural varsity season in Fall 2019. Futcher, who began working at Emory on July 23, has already begun the recruitment process.

Through recruiting across the nation, Futcher has found 30 potential athletes interested in the Women’s Golf team. However, none have committed to Emory at this time, she said.

She projects a team of eight to 10 varsity athletes, with six to eight incoming freshman, a spot for potential transfer students as well as students already enrolled at Emory depending on their skill level.

“Everybody that I’ve spent the day with has been a high school student,” Futcher said of her experience at Emory so far. “Because I’m also new to this school, I like to go to the information sessions as well. I like to walk around campus with them, just so I can become more familiar with the school as well.”

Futcher said personal conversations with recruits are important, but ensuring making sure that Emory is visible and that student athletes know Emory has a golf team — most importantly by competing in tournaments — have been crucial to spreading interest in the new team.

“I’ve had some [conversations], the gamut of … feedback [including], ‘Oh, Emory has a golf team?’ [and] ‘Wow, this is really cool, I’m going to apply,’ ” Futcher said. “Even by being visible, I’ve had several potential students reach out just because I was at an event.”

Futcher’s coaching and playing experience impressed Emory, according to Clyde Partin Senior Director of Athletics Michael Vienna.

“She’s been around golf for her whole life, [and has a] commitment to excellence and a true sense of passion for competition,” Vienna said.

Futcher, who played four years of Division I golf at Pennsylvania State University, said she plans to use her past experience as a student athlete to help her be a better golf coach.

“I understand and have all the same emotions that they did, or rather, do,” Futcher said. “I know this school is very academically rigorous, so I can very much relate to that, and certainly, I was in their shoes.”  

Futcher said she still struggles to balance the overwhelming student interest with producing a competitive team.

“We’re trying to look for student athletes that have some experience, but also, results aren’t everything,” Futcher said. “I’m also looking for intangibles that players would bring to the team, the team atmosphere, the team culture. I love students who are inquisitive, who like to work hard.”

Futcher said coaches by nature are competitive, and she certainly wants to win a national championship. She said she is confident Emory can attract talented student athletes and produce national championship teams.

“Results sometimes are not within our control,” Futcher said. “I would really like our focus to be on the things that we can control. If we do a really good job at focusing on our preparation, our attention to detail, our attitude, the energy we bring to practice, our work ethic — those are all things we can control.

Vienna said the Emory Athletics Department has given Futcher its full support.

“What we hope and expect [is] that our women’s golf program will quickly fall in line with the rest of our varsity athletics program in terms of how strong our students compete academically as well as athletically,” Vienna said.

The coach said she relishes the opportunity to shape the women’s golf team from scratch.

“Ultimately it came down to [realizing that] I get to build a program,” Futcher said. “I get to set the culture, I get to pick the team and I get to be part of a great university that has a long standing tradition of academic and athletic excellence. For me, it was perfect.”

UPDATE (9/6/18 9:49 p.m.): An earlier version of this article was not posted in its entirety. The rest of the article has been added.

Emory plans to launch a women’s golf program that will begin varsity play in Fall 2019. A non-varsity team will begin competing Fall 2018, Clyde Partin Senior Director of Athletics Michael Vienna said.

The varsity team will be the 10th women’s varsity sports team at Emory.

“[The idea] … hasn’t really officially been on the table for any great length of time, but it was certainly something that I contemplated very early in my tenure here,” Vienna said. “It seemed like a natural progression since we had men’s golf … and should have women’s golf. [We] certainly also want to make sure that we’re providing varsity athletic opportunities to our female student body.”

The women’s team will practice and participate in tournaments at the Smoke Rise Country Club golf course in Stone Mountain, Ga., the same venue used by the men’s golf team.

“[The teams] will have to work together a little bit because they’re going to be on the same course,” Vienna said. “I don’t think [the addition of women’s golf will] have a huge impact — no more than what our men’s and women’s tennis [teams] go through.”

Emory plans to begin searching for a coach in the next couple weeks, Vienna said. Once hired, the coach will recruit high school students for the 2019-2020 academic year and current Emory students for next semester’s non-varsity team, Vienna said.

Vienna introduced the varsity golf team in an April 26 email to students, urging Emory students with interest in playing on the non-varsity golf team to contact him or Senior Director of Athletics Joyce Jaleel.

Vienna said if enough women with “some true golf ability” express interest, the Athletics Department can support a couple tournaments in Fall 2018.

“There’s a chance that we may have a couple of students here already that would be very good golfers and could be very competitive on a varsity team if we had varsity golf right now,” Vienna said.

Vienna added that there are currently no plans to create any other sports teams. Emory currently has 19 varsity teams.

“We’ve not added a sport — men or women — in 20 years,” Vienna said.

The No. 3 Emory golf team poses with their first-place award at the Discover Dekalb Spring Invitational at the par-70 Smoke Rise Country Club in Stone Mountain, Ga. The Eagles captured their first win since 2011 on April 8 and 9. Courtesy of Emory Athletics

The No. 3 Emory golf team captured its first win since 2011 at the Discover DeKalb Spring Invitational on April 8 and 9 at the par-70 Smoke Rise Country Club in Stone Mountain, Ga.

The Eagles capped off a spectacular final round to propel the team to victory by reaching a season-low mark of 278 in the second round (two-under par), finishing at 564 (286-278). No. 2 Huntingdon College (Ala.) placed second with a score of 570 (285-285), while Emory’s B team followed with 576 (286-290). No. 1 Methodist University (N.C.) (294-293) and No. 21 Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) (298-293) closed out the rest of the top five.

Head Coach John Sjoberg praised the team’s effort after Emory notched its first win out of 15 teams in the 36-hole tournament since 2011.

“We played really, really well [on Sunday] to close the deal, which was fantastic to watch,” Sjoberg said.

Junior Stefano Butti inspired the Eagles’ victory during Sunday’s final round when he tied the school record for a low round of 66. It was a big turnaround for him after shooting well above par on the first day. Butti recorded seven birdies in the process, ending with a total score of 150 (84-66), good for 29th out of 83 players.

“I didn’t know [I tied the record] until the day was over,” Butti said. “[I was] trying to recover from the day before. My teammates did come through for me [on the first day].”

Huntingdon senior Jon Colten Stanaland (67-70 137) and junior Mark Connelly (71-68 139) returned home with the tournament’s two top scores.

Sophomore Matt Organisak finished with Emory’s top score and third place overall at 140 (72-68).

The rest of Emory’s A team included senior Keenan Hickton and junior Connor Yakubov, who both posted scores of 145, tying for 13th overall. Freshman Eric Yiu tied for fourth on the leaderboard with 141 (68-73).

Junior Anthony Muscato led the Eagles’ B team, finishing with a solid 141 (71-70). Senior Sean Murphy compiled a score of 144 (71-70) to clinch 10th place. The other three members of the B team — junior Noah Apter, sophomore Sam Galloway and freshman Davis Hingtgen — finished 16th, 18th and 29th, respectively.

To round out the competition, Emory claimed three players on the all-tournament team with Organisak, Yiu and Muscato alongside Stanaland, Connelly, Methodist sophomore Larkin Gross and LaGrange College (Ga.) freshman Ben Womack.

Sjoberg expressed high hopes for a quick turnaround and similar results in the next tournament.

“Hopefully we’ll carry the same momentum into the next tournament,” Sjoberg said. “Weather looks pretty decent, and the [two] courses up there are phenomenal.”

Regarding the team’s day off after the tournament, Butti added a vote of confidence to the Eagles’ next play.

“Not much time to prepare as for before,” Butti said. “It’s [still] business as usual.”

The Eagles will play next on April 13 and 14 at the Kravetz Invitational in Rochester, N.Y.

The No. 7-ranked Emory golf team finished seventh in the Tournament Town Preview, a three-round, 54-hole tournament, at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, NC, Sept. 24 to 25.

The Eagles finished with a final team score of 889 (292-219-306), placing seventh in a field of 18 teams. No. 1-ranked University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) earned first place with total score of 875. Following UT Tyler, No. 3-ranked Huntingdon College (Ala.) and No. 9-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University tied for second at 878. It was a rather disappointing finish for Emory after last week’s first-place finish at the Rhodes College Fall Classic.

“We just did not play well,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said of the results. “We’ll learn and rebound from it.”

Junior Connor Yakubov led Emory with a score of 221, a mark that left him five over par and 15th out of 90 players. Freshman Eric Yiu finished next for the Eagles, tying for 23rd with a score of 223 (+7). Senior Keenan Hickton followed in 37th with a score of 226. Junior Stefano Butti and sophomore Matt Organisak completed the tournament with scores of 227 and 230, placing them No. 42 and No. 53, respectively.

Yakubov noted the course’s difficulty level in comparison to last weekend’s tournament in Mississippi.

“The course was lot harder,” Yakubov said. “The course was more firm. Conditions were also tougher. It was windier [today]. However, that was not to blame for our performance.”

The Eagles will look to right the ship at the Oglethorpe Fall Invitational at Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club in Flowery Branch, Ga., Oct. 7 to 8.

Sjoberg anticipates another challenging course at Royal Lakes but has a gameplan for his team to bounce back from this week’s disappointing performance.

“[They] have to drive [the ball] well because it’s a fairly tight golf course,” Sjoberg said. “[However], if the conditions are good, we [have] to make a lot of birdies [to contend].”

The team will need to be back at its best as they battle against many of the same teams in two weeks at Royal Lakes.

The No. 7-ranked Emory golf team started off the season with a comfortable win at the Rhodes College Fall Classic in Tunica, Miss., Sept. 17-18. Sophomore Matt Organisak paved the way for the team, setting an Emory record in a 54-hole tournament with his three round total of 206.

The Eagles finished first in a field of 19 teams with a total team score of 855, breaking Emory’s team score record for a three-round event. The old record was set last year at the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational in Georgia, where the team had a mark of 866.

The Eagles finished seven shots under the No. 1-ranked University of Texas at Tyler, which finished in second with a score of 862. Southwestern University (Texas) placed third with a score of 866, followed by Rhodes College (Tenn.) at 873.

“We played well,” Organisak said. “It was very early in the season and the exact start we need for this season.”

Organisak starred for the team, as he earned joint first place honors alongside Will Hocker of Webster University (Mo.) in a 98-player field. Both shot 10-under par with a score of 206. Organisak also broke a few records on his way to the top of the leader board. His scores for the three rounds were 71-67-68. His second-round score gave him a career best for a round and his final score of 206 is a school record for a 54-hole tournament.

Head Coach Josh Sjoberg praised both the team’s and Organisak’s performance.

“It was brilliant,” Sjoberg said. “All five guys contributed. Everyone played well. [Organisak] played [well] going 10-under leading the way.”

Freshman Eric Yiu finished his first tournament in second place for the Eagles and No. 15 overall. He had a score of one over par at 217. Junior Connor Yakubov finished not far behind, going three over par for a score of 219, which placed him No. 19 overall. Seniors Keenan Hickton and Sean Murphy finished with scores of 221 (No. 27) and 223 (No. 37), respectively.

The Eagles will look to continue their hot start Sept. 24-25 at the NCAA DIII Fall Preview at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.

“[We just want to] continue to get better and gain confidence from it by staying with the process of doing what we do every day,” Sjoberg said. “We got good players that can keep playing at a high level.”

With another tournament this upcoming weekend, the team appears ready and determined to take on the challenge.  

Freshman golfer Sam Galloway scored his first career albatross — two strokes on a par five — at the Huntingdon Intercollegiate (Ala.) March 28 and 29, highlighting an up-and-down weekend that culminated in a fifth place finish out of the tournament’s 15 team field.

Junior golfer Keenan Hickton said that although Huntingdon held a solid hold on first place, Emory sat a mere eight shots out of second after the first round of play. With aspirations for a higher finish, the team’s hopes were high heading into day two.

“We are all a little frustrated with the way we played today, but [if we] pay attention to some decision making and [make] sure we are not giving shots away … we will work from there,” Galloway said. “We can only control what we can control and hope to be able to climb up the leaderboard.”

Unfortunately, despite shooting better on the whole, the puts were not dropping for this Eagles squad in the second and final round. The team shot the same score on day two and maintained their No. 5 rank.

“Finishing fifth isn’t necessarily a disappointment, but it felt like we could have played better,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said. “Huntingdon [College] obviously played great — they made almost 40 birdies and I think we made 13 or 14 for the two days. That’s the difference right there.”

Hickton placed best for the Eagles, tying for No. 13 on the leaderboard. He may not have had an albatross, but his steady play earned him a solid four-over-par score for the two-day tournament.

“[Hickton] bogeyed two of his last four [and still managed] to shoot 73,” Sjoberg said. “He was solid — it was a pretty simple game for him most of the day. He hit it on the fairway, made it on the green.”

Despite Hickton’s leading performance, Galloway’s week did not go unnoticed. He scored his first hole in one March 24 in addition to the three-under-par hole March 27, which he said gave him the confidence to finish strong.

“The highlight of [Monday] was Galloway,” Hickton said. “I have heard of [people scoring an albatross] but it’s pretty darn rare.”

According to Sjoberg, the strength of the top teams in this tournament made the competition important even though it was not as deep a field as the March 17 Jekyll Island Collegiate (Ga.).

With a strong showing at Jekyll and a victory at the UAA tournament, Sjoberg is more than pleased with the team’s performance thus far.

“It was a great month,” Sjoberg said. “We hope to continue to play well and put ourselves in positions to be in contention and that’s the goal every week.”

The Eagles will compete for the final time this season April 8 and 9 at the Emory Spring Invitational in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Kevin Kilgour contributed reporting.