NAIA meet shortened: When the NAIA men’s golf champion is crowned today at TPC Deere Run, the St. Ambrose men’s golf team will be on the outside looking in by the narrowest of margins – again.
Because of weather delays which pushed the completion of the second round of the 72-hole tournament until Thursday, tournament officials made an unprecedented decision to push forward a cut in the tournament field scheduled for after 54 holes to after the 36 holes.
That left St. Ambrose in 18th place, the first team cut from the initial 29-team field. One year after missing the final-round cut by one spot and two strokes, the Fighting Bees fell three strokes shy this year and the cut change left them with no chance to be one of the 17 teams to advance.
“That’s the tough part. They would have liked to at least have had a chance to move up,’’ St. Ambrose coach Jeff Griebel said. “It’s disappointing, not only for our guys but for all the teams that didn’t get the chance to play that third round, especially the seniors.’’
The decision was made by the tournament committee, coaches from three non-qualifying schools who monitor competition at the national tourney, and the on-site NAIA championship director.
“There were weather concerns about (Thursday) and Friday and they opted to go in this direction in hopes of getting all four rounds in,’’ Griebel said. “I appreciate the difficulty of the decision.’’
Two St. Ambrose golfers, senior Paul Burd and junior Andrew Tichler, are among 10 players to make the individual cut and will get a chance to compete in today’s final round, which is pushed up to a 7 a.m. start.
Burd carded a 76 and Tichler shot an 89 on Thursday, posting three-round totals of 228 and 241, respectively.
Texas Wesleyan’s Rowan Lester, a freshman who is also a member of the Irish National Team, currently leads the medalist race, posting a 72 Thursday to sit one stroke in front of Ben Kendrick of the University of the Cumberlands.
Cardinal Stritch continues to maintain the lead in the team race, totaling a 294 Thursday to hold a 13-stroke lead over Grand View and Texas Wesleyan, who are tied for second at 902.