Men’s golf travels to Columbus following a three-week layoff

Doug Gulasy

The Kent State men’s golf team had its most impressive finish of the season in its most recent tournament – and promptly had to wait three weeks to tee it up again for real.

The Flashes return from a three-week layoff when they play the 54-hole Robert Kepler Intercollegiate tournament tomorrow and Sunday at the Scarlet Course in Columbus.

Despite the time off from tournaments, the team believes it will be ready to compete this weekend.

“We’ve got a chance to go down there and contend and beat some good teams,” senior David Markle said. “We’ve all prepared individually (and) as a team we’ve prepared really well. I think each member of the team is excited, and I think it could be a good week for us.”

Markle pointed out that the team also had three weeks to prepare for its previous tournament, the National Invitational Tournament in Tuscon, Ariz., March 24 and 25.

After a 13th-place finish in their first tournament of the spring, the Flashes finished second in the NIT with a score of 7-under-par, three shots behind winner Texas Christian University.

“I think the last round in Arizona gave us a lot of confidence,” Markle said. “We were quite a few shots back going into the last round – I think maybe nine shots back, or it was maybe even more than that. We battled our way back – we lost by three. We could have come back and won it. I think we’re going to take that momentum into this week.”

In the NIT, Markle tied for first place at 8-under-par and was named Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Week for the second time this spring.

“David Markle – I’ve said this before – he’s just had a phenomenal early season for us,” Herb Page, Kent State director of golf, said. “When you get somebody winning a golf tournament and you get some good support from the other guys, you’re going to have a good team finish.”

While Page and Markle said they don’t consider returning to play after a layoff a big deal, the team does have to make one adjustment: playing a tournament in the North.

So far this spring, the Flashes have played in Arizona and Puerto Rico. From now on, though, the team will compete entirely in the states of Ohio and Indiana.

While Page said returning to northern tournaments will be a transition, he said it will help that the team’s players are from the North.

“(Warm-weather golf) is just different golf; it’s a whole different style and kind of golf,” Page said. “The scores will be higher (in the North). The courses are tougher – (not just) the temperatures but just the courses in general.

“I like the Northern (and) the Midwestern golf courses. And our NCAA regionals and the NCAA Championships are being held this year on what I call northern golf courses. So we’re kind of happy. It’s our kind of golf.”

Page said this weekend’s tournament has a strong field. Six of the tournament’s 15 teams are ranked in the top 40 in the Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches’ poll, including the Flashes (39th).

Still, Page said his team’s play would dictate where it would finish.

“It’s more about us doing well, and it’s a little different,” he said. “We’re playing 36 holes on Saturday, so a little bit of conditioning will come into it. The weather’s supposed to be kind of crappy, from what I’ve heard. So you don’t know what all those unknowns are.

“But it’s important that we get out of the gate good on Saturday morning and just get in the hunt, have a chance on Sunday to win. That’s pretty simple stuff.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].