Sports / The Prairie Fire / April 22, 2009

Prairie Fire men’s golf not yet par for the course

This year’s men’s golf team still has some work to do if it is going to follow up last year’s Midwest Conference Championship. Shooting a combined score of 671 during the two-day invitational, the Fire finished 16th and last in the Beu/Mussatto Invitational at Western behind comparably sized Monmouth, in eighth, and Bradley, in sixth. When asked what has changed since last year, Head Coach Rob Purlee was realistic about the team’s performance.

“We just haven’t been able to string together a good weekend yet. We’re good enough to play at the championship level; we just gotta play well the right three days—then we’ve got a chance. When you’ve won as much as Knox,” said Purlee, “you’re chasing championships.”

The men’s golf team graduated David Marquardt last year, notably its best player, who led the team to a first place finish in the 2008 Midwest Conference Men’s Golf Championship in Rockford, last year.

“Marquardt was a real powerhouse,” said Co-Captain Taylor Mueller, junior. “Hit a 72 every time we needed one, chewing par every time.”

Marquardt was the individual medalist at that tournament and finished 14th overall in the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship that the win in Rockford qualified Knox for.

“We have guys that have played at the National Championships, and that experience always helps,” said Purlee. “It’s pretty competitive out there. At Western, we competed against a lot of Division I teams. This year we don’t have one golfer better than everyone else, which is good for the group, since you all have to play at a high level.”

With Marquardt gone, juniors Kevin Foerster, Taylor Mueller, and Mark Janicik, now captain the team. Freshman Bobby Stuebi led the pack this week, shooting 80-83 for a two-round total of 163. Foerster fired off an 81 Monday but dropped to 87 on Tuesday, while his co-captain Mueller matched his six-point drop shooting 83-89. Bryce Goodman, a junior, hit a 94 on Monday but upped his game with an 81 on Tuesday, and sophomore Jamie Jang finished the course with 87-91.

“The new freshman, Bobby Stuebi is amazing,” said Mueller. “But we’re all good golfers. We just need to focus and do it. One bad hole and we’re done for. We concentrate and we can hit that 310 two days in a row and win it.”

“We’re getting better,” said Purlee. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together. I’m optimistic the cream will rise to the top at the championship.”

The Fire competes next at the Scot-Fire Invitational this Friday in Galesburg at Soangetaha Country Club and Saturday in Monmouth at Gibson Woods Golf Course.

David Nolan

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