2009 Spring Season Outlook

Patrick Beausejour

Patrick Beausejour

Photo by Bob Rafferty

The 2009 Wittenberg Tiger men's golf team has its eye on the top of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) and possibly earning a spot in the field at the NCAA Division III National Championships. A strong fall season helped propel second-year head coach Jeff Roope and his team to a third-place position in the conference heading into the spring, primed to strike for the top spot.

As a unit, the Tigers carded a 302.1 shots per round average, a full seven-stroke improvement over last year's effort. A top-two finish would be the first for the program since 1995-96, while a Wittenberg title would be just the second as part of the NCAC and first since 1991-92 for this proud, historically high-achieving program.

A trio of seniors are expected to lead the charge in 2009, headlined by second-team All-NCAC performer from a year ago, Garrett Smith (Powell, Ohio/Worthington Christian). One of three co-captains on this year's squad, Smith improved by more than a shot per round from his team-best mark in 2007-08. Smith's 75.8 shots per round placed him third on the Tigers after a solid fall campaign.

Fellow senior and co-captain Chad Summe (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) brings back in a 76.9 mark from the fall season, an average that includes a stellar 147 total from the Wittenberg Fall Classic. Like Smith, Summe continues to lower his average, shaving off more than a stroke from the 2007-08 campaign. Senior Dan Buchan (Dublin, Ohio/Worthington Christian) also factors into the playing rotation after turning in a 152 at Windy Knoll Country Club in the Tiger-hosted Fall Classic.

From there, Roope turns to a talented collection of underclassmen, many of whom showed they were well-prepared to card low numbers at the collegiate level to keep Wittenberg on pace to turn heads in the conference. Leading the way among the newcomers, Ricky Boerner (Hilliard, Ohio/Watterson) was simply outstanding in his first half-season of collegiate golf. Gems on the course at the Denison and Guy W. Kuhn Invitationals have established a very high ceiling for Boerner, who ranks second individually in NCAC Championship play with a 72.3 scoring average at the halfway point of the 2008-09 season.

Freshman Jordan Millice (Cable, Ohio/Triad) has also proven his potential on the course. In fall action, Millice turned in team-best marks at the Wittenberg Fall Invitational, carding a 144, which included a second-round score of three-under par 69. Fellow first-year Ben Smith (North Bend, Ohio/Elder) finished just a few shots off Millice's pace, taking a 147 at the Tigers' home invitational, while recording the fourth best scoring average through fall play.

Junior Stephen Nevius (Springfield, Ohio/Catholic Central) and freshman Brian Rolland (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) provide depth for one of the strongest Tiger teams in recent years. In addition, sophomore Patrick Beausejour (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) and freshman Chris Dix (Elida, Ohio/Elida) are in the mix. Beausejour battled back from injury to show flashes of brilliance for the Tigers this fall, including a 147 at the Oberlin Invitational.

With two conference tournament championship events in the books, the Tigers look to continue their drive for the top with two more events. A trip to Wabash on April 18-19 followed by the Allegheny-hosted NCAC Championships will determine the Tigers finish this spring. Other events along the way will help the Tigers climb rankings into NCAA Division III postseason contention.

Written By: Ben Bradley, SID Assistant