By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
GULF SHORES, Ala. – A valiant surge towards the top of the leaderboard fell just short for the Tennessee Tech men's golf team Tuesday, as the Golden Eagles concluded play at the rain-shortened ASU Fall Beach Classic just three strokes back of first place.
Behind a furious showing in the event's final round, Tech combined to shoot a 287 for the second best round of the day. The Golden Eagles, who trailed tournament leader Auburn by eight strokes heading into Tuesday, completed play in third place, just one stroke back of the Tigers and three back of both the champion and host, Arkansas State.
The event, which was originally scheduled for 54 holes of competition from Sunday through Tuesday, saw poor weather conditions force the cancellation of play on Monday. Despite losing 18 holes with which to work a comeback, Tech took advantage of the day away from links to shave 11 strokes off its first round total of 298, wrapping up the tournament at 585.
Leading the way for the Golden Eagles was freshman sensation Matthew Giles, who finished in tie for third and just three shots back of individual medalist Graysen Huff of Auburn. Giles notched rounds of 73 and 70 for a 143 in his first career 36-hole event, collecting his second All-Tournament honor of the season.
Following his teammate closely, A.J. Wilkerson also posted a second-round 70 to total a 145 for the three-day event. Combined with his 75 in the first round, the sophomore tied for eighth overall in the field of 62 to match his best finish of the season and his young career.
As always, Mitch Thomas made an impact as a veteran presence on the team, finishing in a tie for 16th place after carding rounds of 73 and 75 for a 148 overall. Fellow senior Bryce Kendrick also collected a top 25 finish, tying for 23rd. He bounced back from 77 on Sunday for an even-par 72 on Tuesday to post 149 for the event.
Wrapping up the scoring for the Golden Eagles was redshirt freshman Ben Huskey. The rookie trimmed six strokes off a first round 84 to finish with a second-round 78 and 162 for the tournament.
With its third top three finish of the year, the Tech men's squad will shift its focus to the classroom and tinkering on some things to get better throughout practice before returning to the course in February for the spring season.
Photo by Dave Winder, Murray State Sports Information