The SIU men’s golf team teed-off its season with a fourth place finish at the Wasioto Winds fall kick-off in Pineville, Ky., Tuesday.
The Salukis were paced by seniors Jake Erickson and Jeff Miller, who tied with the 12th best individual scores in the tournament at two over par. Seniors Brandon Cauldwell and Joe Goelzhauser finished four and 10 over par to place 19th and 34th, respectively. Freshman Drew Novara finished 40th individually at 11 over par to round out the Salukis’ team score at 14 strokes over par.
Coach Leroy Newton said the team expected to finish better, but a slow start caused the lower finish.
“Honestly, we thought we would do a little better,” Newton said. “We thought we could win it. We started out on some really tough holes, and it took us awhile to get going.”
The two-day, three-round tournament began with two rounds Monday and finished with Tuesday’s last round. Wasioto Winds is a course with plenty of water hazards, as three lakes and a creek are incorporated into the 72-stroke par course.
“If you can get past a couple of the tougher holes, (the course) isn’t that bad,” Erickson said. “There are a couple holes that are visually intimidating. You might have water on both sides of the fairway. Those are the holes that really get your blood pumping.”
SIU was one of 14 schools in the competition that included Northern Kentucky University, the University of Tennessee-Martin and Murray State University, the tournament’s winner.
Cauldwell said Murray State is a team the Salukis know well.
“We see them quite a bit,” he said. “We will play them several more times this year, and we feel if we start better we can beat them.”
Murray State finished at 11 strokes under par.
The Salukis had the third-most pars of any team in the tournament with 168, 38 of which came from Goelzhauser. The team tallied 40 birdies, the tournament’s sixth most, with Erickson contributing 11. Novarra contributed the Salukis lone eagle of the tournament.
SIU finished just one stroke short of third-place Northern Kentucky, who finished at 13 strokes over par.
John A. Logan Community College also competed in the tournament and finished 13th at 59 strokes over par.
The Salukis will be back in action Sunday at the Purdue/ Midwest Shootout in West Lafayette, Ind.