For the first time in four years a member of the Knox men’s golf team captured an individual conference title.
Senior Bobby Stuebi fired rounds of 76, 74 and 72 to take the Midwest Conference Tournament, the first win for the Prairie Fire since David Marquardt ’08 claimed the individual title in 2008. Stuebi’s total score of 222 also tied the record low for the tournament since it went to the three round format.
“That’s the best I’ve played in a college tournament,” Stuebi said.
After day one Stuebi was one of five players tied atop the leaderboard with rounds of 76, including teammate and fellow senior Jamie Jang. As a team Knox placed third after day one, just three strokes behind first place. Stuebi credited a laid back mindset for the team’s success on day one.
“The mindset was, don’t be nervous because we have nothing to be nervous about. Just go out there, have fun and play well,” he said.
Though Knox drifted behind leader and ultimate champion Carroll, Stuebi’s round of 74 gave him a two-stroke lead in the individual standings. Despite having the lead, Stuebi did not feel the need to press or play defensive.
“I knew there were so many good players, which meant I had to play just as well or better to win,” he said. “I really didn’t feel like I was playing with the lead, I felt like I needed to keep being aggressive, keeping going after shots and making birdies.”
The aggressive mentality was apparent right from the start of the third round. Stuebi opened play with a birdie on hole one. It was the third straight day Stuebi had birdied the opening hole. A chip in birdie on the seventh was followed by two more birdies at ten and 12, leaving Stuebi in good shape on the back nine.
“I figured I did have the lead. I tried not to think about it, but I was three under through 13 holes, which I thought had to be good enough. However, I still wanted to finish strong,” he said.
Though Stuebi would bogey three of his final six holes, his strong start allowed him to finish with an even par 72.
“Once I was in at 72 I thought I had a good chance to win, but I still had to wait an hour for the rest of the groups to come in. At that point it was just a waiting game,” Stuebi said.
When the final scores were tallied Stuebi had claimed a four-stroke victory over Carroll’s Cody Neu.
Stuebi credited his putting and iron play as key elements to the victory.
“I made a lot of putts, especially on the last day; high percentage of putts inside ten feet, which was big. I was also striking the ball really well with my irons which allowed me to go after a lot of pin positions,” he said.
“Bobby really had a great weekend, leading wire-to-wire and matching the lowest 54-hole score ever posted in conference history. The field this year was very competitive and I couldn’t be happier to see him come out on top,” freshman golfer James Fenner, who finish tied for sixth, said.
Fenner also noted the response of the rest of the conference to Stuebi’s win.
“Many coaches and people around [the course] this weekend voiced how happy they were to see Bobby leading and then winning the tournament. I think this speaks volumes to how universally well-liked he is throughout the conference,” he said.
Ultimately the victory was the culmination of a career’s worth of work for Stuebi.
“Coming in as a freshman I thought I would win a couple times, but once I was in college golf I was shocked about how much harder it was than high school golf,” he said. “Going into this season I was hoping to at least compete. You can play well and still not win [the conference tournament] with all the solid competition. It feels really good to be on the list of [Knox] champions. I really would have liked for the team to win the conference title, but it didn’t happen.”
Knox finished fourth in the team standings. Stuebi and Fenner were followed by Jang (tied for 22nd) and senior Jacob Lewis (tied for 32nd) individually.
With Stuebi, Jang, Lewis and senior Ben Wetherbee all graduating this year, the team makeup will look very different next season.
“The seniors over the last two years have been great. Ever since I arrived on the golf team freshman year I have felt fully welcomed and part of the team. This year’s seniors have had a special impact and they will be sorely missed next year,” Fenner said.
While Stuebi and Jang were not necessarily vocal leaders, Fenner explained that they showed leadership in other ways.
“Bobby’s resiliency and positive demeanor on the golf course is something that I have always tried to emulate,” Fenner said. “Jamie has a calm about him on the golf course, which is a very valuable asset when the round gets rough. He also fights hard to do better and has a strong passion for Knox golf, which I would like to be sure is carried on by all future and current Knox golfers.”
After tying for sixth, Fenner said he will embrace the role of team leader and has all intentions of making it back-to-back for Knox.
“There is no doubt [Stuebi’s win] will be motivation for me next year because Bobby emphatically supplanted Knox back atop the conference as a golf threat and I have no intention of seeing that go by the wayside,” he said.