“The course is in outstanding condition,” said NIU head coach Tom Porten during the team’s practice round Thursday. “This is a terrific, very well-run event. We have over 200 volunteers that are involved in the event. We had a great opening ceremony, where each team was introduced like they were walking out of a football stadium tunnel. It’s great to see a community turnout at an event like this.”
The Huskies competed in the previous two editions of the event at Gleneagles Country Club, capturing 13th and 14th places in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
NIU will be looking to turn its experience with the seaside course into a top-10 finish this season. The team’s seniors Jeff Dick (Sherman, Texas/Sherman HS), Andrew Frame (Manteno, Ill./Manteno HS) and Tim Kay (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS) have all played the course in previous seasons.
“Three of the guys have played here before and know the course,” Porten said. “They should be prepared to play well. The course is a little different than last week. The greens are faster and the course has better conditioning. The format is different, too. This is an 18-18-18 hole event, as opposed to playing 36 holes on Day One and the final 18 on Day Two. I’m just looking for the guys to come out with energy and compete early. We’ve had a nice practice round. They are ready. They are ready to correct our performance in Orlando last week.”
With host Florida Atlantic and a pair of fellow Florida schools the only exceptions, this year’s field features a contingent of northern climate programs. Connecticut, DePaul, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Minnesota, Murray State, Nebraska, South Florida, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Wisconsin will be joining the Huskies in the three-day, 54-hole event.
Dick enters the event coming off a tough showing at last week’s Rio Pinar Invitational. However, the Texan’s history at Gleneagles will provide him with an excellent opportunity to bounce back into a top-20 finish. The Huskies’ scoring leader, one of a handful of golfers playing this tournament for the third time, posted a final-round 66 in 2009 to claim sole possession of 13th place. In addition, Dick has never shot worse than a 75 at the Delray Beach club.
Frame and Kay competed alongside Dick at the inaugural 2009 event. Kay posted a respectable tie for 45th place, the Huskies’ second best finisher that year. Frame did not fare as well, but his third-round 74 indicates he may have figured the course out. Both redshirt seniors aim for improved results this weekend as they finish up the Florida rounds of their final season.
Emory returns to action this week after an encouraging start to his spring campaign. The Aurora product posted his second-best collegiate finish at the Snowman Getaway (29th place) and followed that effort up with one of the team’s best at the Rio Pinar Invitational. Bauman will make his first spring appearance after finishing in a tie for 46th at the CSU/Telich Sun Life Financial Invitational in his last event of the fall season.
The team will tee off Friday, March 25, at Gleneagles to play the first 18 of the event’s 54 holes. The course will play to a par of 72 and a length of 6,750 yards.
Built in 1984, Gleneagles is a popular course among the locals and retirement community. Aging golf legends Sam Snead, Billy Casper, and Doug Ford played the course frequently during their time there in the 1980s and ’90s, as well as in the one Champions Tour event held there in 1986.
For more information on NIU men’s golf and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.