Confidence key for golf team in Tucson tourney

Josh Johnston

Men finish second, Markle comes away with medalist honors

Golf is all about confidence. And coming into the third round at the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz., the Kent State men’s golf team showed plenty of it. Starting the day in fourth place and 12 shots behind tournament leader Texas Christian, the Flashes nearly came away with an upset by advancing ten strokes on the leaders.

“This game’s about confidence,” coach Herb Page said. “We have a good blend of seniors and freshmen and they’re starting to gel and trust each other. This was a really good confidence booster for us.”

Senior David Markle displayed his confidence in his game by carding a 5-under-par round to put him in a tie for first place.

“He’s trusting his swing,” Page said. “It’s good to see the hard work is paying off his senior year for him. It couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.”

Markle’s three under par rounds in Arizona puts him at six consecutive under par rounds. Earlier this year he shot 4-under-par at the Puerto Rico Classic.

“We came back from Puerto Rico and never hit a shot off outside,” Page said. “He’s done something that Ben Curtis never did, Jon Mills never did.”

As a team, the men shot 9-under-par in the third round to move into second place. Midway through the round the Flashes had pulled within two of Texas Christian.

“We were just on fire,” Page said. “We ran out of holes. (Texas Christian) had a pretty big lead and we were back in fourth.”

Kent State stayed in fourth during the first two rounds, carding 1-under and 3-over. Meanwhile Texas Christian built a nine-stroke cushion between them and the rest of the field.

“We talked about it, and we said ‘Hey, let’s put the heat on, let’s see what we can do,'” Page said.

All five of Kent State’s golfers carded rounds of 1-over or better in the third round. Freshman John Hahn and senior Tom Ballinger shot 2-under-par and even par.

“It wasn’t a one man show,” Page said. “We’ve got a very good team and a very deep team.”

Finishing out the scoring for the men, freshman Brett Cairns shot an even par round to end at 3-over-par. Fifth on the team, senior Tommy Wiegand shot 12-over-par. Only the top four scores are included in the team score.

Golfing as an individual, freshman Jean-Phillipe Paiement finished in 10th at 2-under-par.

“If (Paiement) had been in the line-up, we probably would have won,” Page said. “The three freshmen played well in the fall. It was nice to see them all have a good week this week.”

Contact sports correspondent Josh Johnston at [email protected].