The No. 14-ranked Eagles secured a fourth place finish at the Jekyll Island Invitational this past weekend. The three-day, 54-hole event was held on the Pine Lakes Course in Jekyll Island, Ga. The Eagles’ score of 902 (301-301-300) was good for fourth place of 30 teams.
Junior Johnathan Chen paced the team’s efforts with a score of 224 (75-73-76), good for 12th place in a 148-player field and earning him Athlete of the Week recognition. Senior David Collura followed in the Emory contingent, finishing in 25th place with a score of 226 over the three rounds (75-76-75).
“We had a rough start at the UAA (University Athletic Association) Championships but after regrouping had a decent showing at Jekyll, placing progressively and moving up the leaderboard each day,” said Chen.
Right behind Collura was sophomore Alex Wunderlich in 26th place, with a score of 227 (76-76-75). Junior Alec Berens, who finished fifth individually at the UAA Championships, shot 230 (75-76-79) on the tournament. Fellow junior Will Roth rounded out the team’s scores with a score of 231 (80-77-74).
“All five guys played well and contributed each day to the finish,” Head Coach John Sjoberg said, “It’s great to have that depth and consistency in our scoring.”
The Eagles’ dependability in scoring during this season has become a notable strength.
“One of the best parts about our team is how well-balanced we are,” Berens said. “Our top five guys could put up the best score on any given day. Our overall consistency is what really separates us.”
The team’s success at Jekyll was fueled by motivation from the loss at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships, tying for second place with Carnegie Mellon (Penn.).
“The Jekyll Invitational has arguably the best field of any tournament we play, and the competition is higher in quality and quantity than other tournaments,” Collura said. “A top finish here usually means a bid to the National Championship, and with the loss at UAAs, it was especially imperative to play well.”
At the Jekyll Island Invitational, Illinois Wesleyan took first place with a team score of 882, Methodist University followed in second place with an 890, and Oglethorpe finished third at 893.
“It really helped our confidence and ultimately bettering our chances of getting into nationals,” Chen said. “We have two more events coming up: the Druid Invitational and the Navies events. Finishing well will solidify our nationals spot, as well as getting some good preparation in.”
The team now looks forward to their last two events before the NCAA Division III Championships in May.
“We have the ability to play exceptional golf, and currently we playing as consistently as I have ever seen,” Collura said. “What we need to do now is eliminate some of the mental mistakes on the course, and we are looking forward to seeing who really steps up in these next few weeks.”
The Eagles will return to tournament play on April 1-2 at the Druid Hills Golf Course where they will host the Emory Spring Invitational.
“We’re playing all 11 guys and looking for a great term performance to secure a top three finish,” Sjoberg said. “We had a good start at Callaway, played poorly at UAAs but well at Jekyll so we’re looking to carry that momentum into Druid next week.”
– By Seanette Ting
Photo Courtesy of Emory Athletics