Golf team heats up over the break

Valerie Melton

Despite a shortened preseason due to an unusually cold winter, members of the Missouri Southern golf team is off to a fast start.

While the rest of the student body was out on spring break, the team was a competing at the Beaufort Lonnie Barton Invitational at the University of South Carolina.

The Hilton Head skies yielded clear weather while the team clinched second place, carding a second-day, team-best score of 299.

“We had some exceptional weather and a great course to spend spring break on,” said head coach, Kevin Greim. “The course was pretty straight forward and normal, aside from the alligators that were hanging out on the course.”

The Lions finished just six strokes off of the team champion Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Southern was followed by Long Island University (Div I), Ohio Valley and Fairfield (Div I), to round out the top five. In all, Southern defeated all four Division I teams in the tournament. Senior, Tommy Clifford finished fourth overall with a two-day total of 148, three shots off the individual medalist, Patrick Kelly of Long Island.

Senior Tyler Geocker shot a two-round 152, followed by freshman Adam Nelson’s 155, senior Eric Byers’ 157 and junior Ben Perry’s 158

After returning from South Carolina, Clifford was named MIAA golfer of the week.

“Tommy is an exceptional golfer,” Greim said. “He finds ways to score even if he’s not hitting it especially well. He always battles until he fixes whatever is going on. He’s just mentally tough.”

The team continued its season as it traveled to Danville, Ark., to compete in the Arkansas Tech Collegiate Classic on March 19-20.

Clifford shaved 5 strokes off a first-day 76 to shoot a 1-under 71, just one off the low round for the tournament. His two-day score of 147 was good enough for a share of second place, six shots off the leader, Justin Yoder of Central Missouri.

The team finished fifth behind Central Missouri, Arkansas Tech, Cameron and Washburn. Nelson and Byers finished 17th and 18th with a 151 and 152. Goecker and freshman Cory Clingan were tied for 25th with a 155, while Perry was 32nd with a 158

“The teams that beat us were very good,” Greim said. “Arkansas Tech was the host school and Yoder from CMU did very well. We were right there for two days and feeling pretty good.”

The Lions are working hard as their season ends with several key matches.

“We’re hosting a tournament the first week in April at Loma-Linda and then we’ve got conference and the regional tournament to worry about,” Greim said. “We’re practicing at Loma-Linda a lot. There are some tricky holes and we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to play those holes as often as we can. We’re learning Twin Hills (the site of this year’s regional tournament).

It’s going to come down to who has the best short game. As a team we want to be sure that our wedges, chipping and putting are as good as they can be.”