Saluki Golf Drives Forward

By Gus Bode

The SIU men’s golf team did not quite finish what they started this week.

The Salukis finished seventh among 15 teams at the Grover Page Classic in Jackson, Tenn., after shooting 295 in the first round, tied for second best.

The two-day, 54-hole tournament was a par-72 course that stretched 6,738 yards. SIU saved their worst round for last, shooting a 314 in round 3. The slip started in the second round with a team score of 304, nine shots more than their first round.

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“The kids found out that they could play this competition when we put all three rounds together.” – SIU coach Leroy Newton

Saluki coach Leroy Newton said he was pleased with his team’s performance.

“We shot two good rounds and I was really tickled with the kids,” Newton said. “The kids found out that they could play this competition when we put all three rounds together.”

SIU was led by senior Andrew Gwinup and freshman Blake Driskell, who was coming off a career best 11th place finish at the Pizza Hut/Bell South Classic in Philadelphia, Miss.

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Driskell carried that momentum into the Grover Page Classic by shooting a 72 in the first round of play, tying him for seventh with senior teammate Andrew Gwinup.

Driskell fell out of the top 10 at the end of the tournament, but Gwinup finished seventh overall. Gwinup posted a 70 and 72 in the first two rounds, but fell off in the last round at 78.

Gwinup said his good performance was due to his short game, but he feels he can improve.

“The first couple rounds I putted the ball real well. I put myself within 10 or 15 feet of the hole,” Gwinup said. “If I can just get a little more consistent with my irons, especially going for par-fives or long par-fours, it would help.”

The Salukis finished with a team score of 913, 45 strokes behind first place, North Alabama. The Salukis’ opening round of 295, however, was the seventh best round of any team in the tournament.

Newton said that the Salukis would be able to continue to build off this tournament.

“They are going to get better, now we just have to play three rounds,” he said. “They are working on their individual shortcomings, and I think we’re going to be all right and get better every tournament.”

After two straight seventh place finishes, SIU will look to move up when they compete March 12th at the Samford Intercollegiate tournament.

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