By Jill Stinson/Assistant sports editor
As the men’s golf team continues through the heart of their spring season, they snapped their streak of first-place finishes this past Monday and Tuesday in the Belmont Invitational in Franklin, Tenn. Having now competed in five tournaments since spring break, the Colonels have a 10th-place finish on their record along with their three consecutive firsts.”Having to come straight down here from UK, we had a mental let down,” coach Pat Stephens said. “We weren’t physically tired, but mentally tired after winning three in a row.”
The men’s golf team finished in 12th place after the first two rounds of the Belmont Invitational where they fired rounds of 305 and 292 at the Legends Club.
The Colonels were paced by Brandon Brown and Tyler Cain, who finished the day tied for 30th place. Brown shot rounds of 73 and 75 for a total of 148, while Cain carded scores of 77 and 71.
Patrick Williams completed the first day of competition with rounds of 79 and 72 to tie for 53rd place with a total of 151. Josh Crutcher and Drew Alexander rounded out the Eastern scoring with a total of 152. Crutcher shot rounds of 77 and 75, while Alexander turned in rounds of 78 and 74.
The Colonels trailed Wofford, who led the field after the opening two rounds by 31 strokes.
However the Colonels managed to find a way to pull up to 10th after the second day of play. Eastern carded a final round of 291 to complete the tournament at 888 strokes. The team moved up two spots after finishing the opening two rounds in 12th place.
Brown and Williams led the Colonels’ efforts to move up the leader board. Williams turned in the low round of the day for the man, shooting a final round of 69. He completed the tournament in a tie for 20th at 220. His effort also saw him jump 33 spots in the final standings after finishing the first day in 53rd place.
Brown fired a final-round 72 for a total of 220. He moved up 10 spots to tie for 20th after finishing the first two rounds in 30th place.
Cain tied for 47th in the tournament with a three-round total of 224 after carding a 76 on Tuesday. Crutcher shot 226 in the event to finish in a tie for 56th after shooting 74 on Tuesday. Alexander rounded out the Eastern scoring with a final round of 76. He totaled 228 in the tournament to finish in a tie for 68th.
“It was a let down obviously, but I feel comfortable and confident about where we’re at going into the OVC tournament,” Stephens said.
The Colonel golfers won their third-straight tournament with an 18-stroke victory over second-place Kentucky in the Johnny Owens Invitational by shooting a final-round 292 in the event to finish at seven-over-par for the event.
The three consecutive victories are the most for a Colonel squad under coach Stephens.
“It was a great win for us beating UK at their home course, especially since they are in the top 25 and at the top of our region,” Stephens said.
Eastern led the field by 15 strokes after the first day of play and put themselves into position to win its third straight tournament. The Colonels fired a two-round total of 579 and finishing the opening day of the Johnny Owens Invitational in first place.
Brown continued with an outstanding pair of scores on Friday, carding rounds of 71 and a season-low 68 to finish the day in first place. His score put him four shots ahead of Kentucky’s John Holmes, who stood in second place.
Williams, who won last week’s EKU Spring Invitational, was within striking distance of the top spot as well. Williams carded rounds of 75 and 70 for a total of 145, leaving him in tied for fourth.
Crutcher picked up where he left off last week, turning in rounds of 74 and 73 for a total of 147. Crutcher finished the day in a tie for seventh place. Drew Alexander completed a quad of Colonels in the top 10 with a pair of 74s for total of 148, putting him in a tie for 10th place at the end of the first two rounds.
Rounding out the scoring for Eastern was Cain, who fired rounds of 77 and 76 for a total of 153 to place tied for 18th at the end of the day.
Josh McCracken also played in the tournament as an individual, shooting 86 and 78 to finish the first two rounds in a tie for 61st.
The Colonels held on to capture their third-straight win by ousting nationally-ranked UK.
For the third tournament in a row, a Colonel also captured the top individual prize as Brown shot a three-round total of 210 to earn medalist honors. The win is the second in three tournaments for Brown, his first coming three weeks ago. Brown’s total was three strokes better than second-place finisher Bryan Vahlberg, of Louisiana-Monroe.
Crutcher fired a final-round 73 for a total of 220 to finish in a tie for fourth place. Williams recorded a 76 in Saturday’s final round to finish seventh with a three-round tally of 221. Williams, who won last week’s EKU Spring Invitational, has finished in the top 10 in four of the team’s five tournaments this spring.
Alexander was the fourth Eastern player to finish the tournament in the top 10. His final-round 74 gave him a three-round total of 222, good enough to tie for eighth place in the event. Cain rounded out the Eastern scoring with a final round of 74, his best of the tournament, to tie for 20th place with a 227.
McCracken, who competed as an individual in the tournament, shot a final-round of 84 to finish tied for 63rd.
“We had three really good tournaments in a row,” Stephens said.
The Colonels will be in action again this weekend at the Marshall University Invitational in Huntington, W. Va., on Friday and Saturday.
“The Marshall tournament this weekend is a key tournament, and it doesn’t get any easier for us from here on out,” Stephens said.
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