By Jill Stinson/Assistant sports editor
The men’s golf team carded its second-straight win on Saturday afternoon and took home all the hardware when the team shot a final-round total of 283 to push ahead of second-place teams Tennessee State and Morehead State by 10 strokes to win the EKU Spring Invitational at Arlington Golf Course. Colonels Patrick Williams and Brandon Brown took home first- and second-place honors as well. “We should always win at home and are expected to. We faced some solid OVC competition and it was tough,” coach Pat Stephens said.
Eastern finished at 571 after two rounds on Friday, putting the team at five-under par for their home tournament and six strokes in front of second-place Tennessee State.
The Colonels trailed TSU by one shot after the first round, but the team rallied in the second, shooting a combined 282, to jump into the lead going into Saturday’s final round.
The men were paced by Patrick Williams’ two-round total of 140. Williams shot back-to-back rounds of 70 and finished the day tied for second, just one shot back of Austin Peay’s Matt Gallant, who shot rounds of 70 and 69 to lead the event at 139.
Brandon Brown completed two rounds alone in fourth place, shooting rounds of 69 and 72 on the day for a total of 141. Josh Crutcher ended the day in a tie for tenth place, carding rounds of 77 and 69 to help boost the team’s score. Junior Tyler Cain, who shot 148, and Drew Alexander, who turned in a 150, rounded out the men’s scoring. Cain finished the day in a tie for 21st and Alexander will start the final round in a tie for 26th.
When the final round got underway despite the early morning rain, the Colonels were able to push ahead of all the competition. The men finished the tournament at 854, 10 shots under par and 10 strokes ahead of TSU and MSU.
Also getting the win was senior Patrick Williams, who turned in a final-round 69 to post a three-round total of 209, winning the event by two shots over teammate Brandon Brown. The win was the first in Williams’ career after three second-place finishes in this tournament. The win comes after last week’s win by Brown, which was also a career first. Williams, who shot rounds of 70, 70 and 69, was the only player to card three rounds below par.
“I’ve always wanted to win a tournament and, winning my last tournament at my home course made it more special,” Williams said.
Brown completed the tournament with a final round of 70 to total 211 and finish alone in second place. Brown is the reigning OVC golfer of the week last week following his win in El Diablo.
Crutcher recovered from an opening round of 77 to finish in 14th place. Crutcher followed his second-round score of 69 with a final round of 73 to shoot 219 in the tournament. Also tied for 14th was Cain, who shot one under par 71 in the final round to reach the 219 mark.
“Everyone played well, it was an overall team effort,” Stephens said.
Alexander rounded out the Eastern scoring with a final-round 76 and a three-round total of 226 to finish tied for 31st. Three other Eastern players competed individually. Josh McCracken finished with a final round 79 to shoot 227 for the tournament and finish tied for 35th. Clay Ballard equaled McCracken’s 227 after posting a final-round 72. Robbie Baldwin shot 228 for the tournament to finish tied for 42nd.
“This win gives us some positive momentum going into UK,” Stephens said.
The Colonels hope to make it three in a row when they hit the links again next weekend in the University of Kentucky/Johnny Owens Intercollegiate tournament.
“Our team is playing well enough to win this tournament,” Williams said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence and everyone’s games are coming around.”
The Colonels finished fourth out of 15 in this tournament last year, posting a total score of 920 despite the weather conditions. UK is ranked 19th in the country by GolfStat.com, and their top golfer, John Holmes, is ranked seventh nationally. Holmes was named to the 2004 Ben Hogan Award watch list last week and is also last week’s SEC player of the week. UK has finished in the top 10 in all but one of their tournaments this year, so they are the team to beat.
The Colonels are excited about playing at UK this weekend.
“This course is a really good course for our team,” Cain said.