By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Strong play across the board proved more than enough for the Tennessee Tech men's golf team to make a push up the leaderboard Tuesday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles jumped three places in the standings at the GolfWeek Program Challenge to finish in a tie for seventh place.
Sitting at 1-over following the first two rounds of play at the True Blue Golf Club, the Tech men pushed it to another level on the final day, combining for an 8-under 280 to leapfrog several teams, including Ohio Valley Conference rival Austin Peay. The Golden Eagles finished at 288-289-280=857, placing first among the OVC's four participating teams and tying with Elon for seventh in the 18-team field.
In just his first-ever collegiate tournament, freshman Matthew Giles looked more like a seasoned veteran, leading the team over the three days on the links with a 70-71-69=210. Tying for 12th place in the 90-man field, Giles notched four more birdies on Tuesday to finish with 15 and tie the event's individual medalist (David Wicks of Jacksonville) and runner-up (Ryan Cole of James Madison) for the most of the tournament.
Senior Mitch Thomas nearly caught his rookie teammate, firing off an impressive 5-under 67 to finish tied for 14th after rounds of 74 and 70 on the first two days. The Knoxville native went bogey-free over his final 18 holes, compiling three birdies and an eagle to tie for the second-lowest score of the day. Combined with his efforts from Monday, Thomas played the final two rounds with just a single bogey and made a total of six birdies and an eagle.
Fellow senior Bryce Kendrick shot even par for his final round of action, turning in a final scorecard of 76-70-72=218 for the tournament. He recorded his tournament-best second eagle of the week on the par-5 No. 4 and added three birdies while finishing in a tie for 42nd place.
Another veteran of the Tech program, Adam Cunningham rounded out his first event of the year with a final-round mark of 76 and three-day total of 222.
Neil Gannaway made huge strides in his game over the final 18 holes, shaving nine strokes off his previous encounter with the course to chip in a 72 to the scoring and help Tech vault up the leaderboard. Thanks to four third-round birdies, the senior posted an 80-81-72=233 to wrap up the Golden Eagle participants.
The Tech squad will take a week's hiatus from official action before returning to the links on Sept. 21-22 for the Murray State Invitational.
Photo by Rob Schabert