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Men’s golf set to host MAC Championships

May 3, 2012
Thomas Dunne

Thomas Dunne

The Northern Illinois men’s golf team will host the Mid-American Conference Championships this weekend at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

The 72-hole event begins Friday, May 4, with an opening 36 holes; 18 holes are scheduled for both Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6.

The championships conclude a successful season for the Huskies that included a runner-up finish at the Cardinal Intercollegiate, eight Top 10 finishes in 10 tournaments played and a smooth transition to a new generation of NIU golfers.

The team’s third-place performance at the MAC Match Play event in February, which included eight of the conference’s nine men’s golf programs, could very well serve as a preview for this final event.

Those eight schools, Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Miami, NIU, Ohio, and Toledo, as well as three-time defending MAC champion Kent State, will cross paths in Sugar Grove, Ill., this weekend.

These championships mark the first time NIU has hosted the event since 2003, also at Rich Harvest Farms, when Kent State took the title with the highest winning score (1174) since the MAC moved to its current format in 1996. NIU will be looking to take advantage of its local knowledge at, arguably, the conference’s most demanding course.

NIU head coach Tom Porten’s starting lineup is headlined by freshman Thomas Dunne (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman).

Dunne has played exceedingly well this spring, posting top 20s in three of his four events, and is a combined five-over-par during that stretch. The Dublin, Ohio, native shared the lead entering the final round at the FAU Spring Break Championship en route to posting one of the Huskies’ three top-10 individual finishes in 2012. Dunne bounced back from a first-round 79 in NIU’s most recent event with a second-round 66 to secure 13th place, as well as his spot atop Coach Porten’s depth chart.

Bryce Emory

Bryce Emory

Junior Bryce Emory (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) checks in in the second position for the Huskies.

The junior outplayed NIU’s 10 other entrants in September’s Northern Intercollegiate at Rich Harvest Farms – a prime example of a Huskie taking advantage of competing on his home course.

Emory finished 22nd in that opening event, and has since produced NIU’s best scoring average (74.4) this season. The Marmion Academy product will look to improve on his 30th-place showing at last year’s championships at the TPC River’s Bend.

Rounding out NIU’s lineup are juniors Kurtis Luedtke (Aurora, Ill./West), Griffin Bauman (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) and Paul Hammerschmidt (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central). Each has competed in at least one previous MAC Championships, valuable experience heading into this weekend’s championship.

The winner of this weekend’s championship will earn the MAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, scheduled May 17 to May 19.

The 2012 regional sites are: The Club at Olde Stone (Bowling Green, Ky.), The Grandover Resort (Greensboro, N.C.), The Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club (Norman, Okla.), The University of Georgia Golf Course (Athens, Ga.), The University of Michigan Golf Course (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and The Stanford Golf Course (Stanford, Calif.).

Fans are welcome to attend this weekend’s MAC Championship free of charge. Parking will be available on site at the West Entrance to Rich Harvest Farms at Granart Road. Live scoring will also be available live at starting Friday morning.

For more information on NIU men’s golf and Huskie athletics, visit