East Carolina University’s men’s golf team traveled to Durham, North Carolina to compete in the Rod Myers Invitational on Saturday and Sunday at Duke University Golf Club, where they ultimately finished eighth.
The Pirates shot a combined score of 873 which was 9-over par, while first place finisher No. 5 Wake Forest University, shot an 835 which was 29-under par. The Duke University Golf Club, which is a par-72, and covers 7,154 yards, was in top condition, with 29 people and six teams finishing under par. Head coach Andrew Sapp saw the potential for the team this year and was pleased with the first round, but noticed the team struggled and fell back in two of the rounds they played.
“We definitely had some good things happen,” Sapp said. “Overall, I feel like we need to improve our consistency.”
The field consisted of teams from all over the country including Duke, Liberty, Princeton and as far as Oregon. ECU started the tournament off tying East Tennessee State University for third overall by shooting a combined score of 288. However, they took eighth place during the second and third rounds shooting scores of 292 and 293 respectively. Sapp credited the field, citing its strong teams and top individuals he was glad to face.
“It was good to face some teams who we will not see very often such as Oregon and Vanderbilt,” Sapp said.
Leading the Pirates was sophomore Patrick Stephenson, who finished in 14th place, shooting a 213 which was 3-under par. Stephenson opened the tournament shooting a 69 3-under par, followed by a 1-under par in the second round. He ultimately had his worst round during the final day as he shot 1-over par. This 54-hole score was a career low for Stephenson however, and Sapp was happy with Stephenson’s first ever collegiate event finish.
“Hopefully this week helps lead him to even greater things,” Sapp said. “This was a nice step for him for sure.”
The next Pirate on the scoreboard was senior Tim Conover who tied for 26th, shooting a 218, putting him 2-over par for the weekend. He was followed by redshirt senior Jackson Spires, who finished tying for 40th and shooting 7-over par with a score of 223.
Sophomore Blake Taylor shot a 224 putting him tied for 50th and finishing 8-over par. However, the highlight for Taylor was the eagle he recorded on the par-5 seventh hole in the final round on Sunday. His eagle being in the final round matched with his improvement in each round of the weekend. The final Pirate was sophomore Chris Akers who finished in 62 shooting 11-over par with a score of 227.
Standout performers from the Invitational, other than ECU golfers, were Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris and Oregon’s Norman Xiong who were given co-individual honors as both shot 12-under par for a score of 204 through three rounds. Along with having an athlete earning co-individual honors, the Demon Deacons stood out claiming their third straight title at this tournament.
The Pirates will continue their season on October 2 and 3 at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in Raleigh, North Carolina. The match will take place at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University. Sapp said he is ready to get back to work Tuesday at their practice facility and work on the team’s short game in order to the team qualified for the next event.
“I feel that with improved wedge play we could have saved five shots a man for the tournament,” Sapp said. “And that is the difference between finishing eighth and fourth.”