Cold conditions freeze Dawgs’ clubs

By Tyler Davis

The thermometer was not the only cold object on the course at the First Tee Classic in Little Rock, Ark., Monday and Tuesday. The Salukis’ golf game was pretty cold too. 

In the event, hosted by the University of Little Rock-Arkansas, SIU managed a last place finish in the field of 14 teams. The team never seemed to get it going at Chenal Country Club as temperatures threatened to dip into the 30s and wind swirled.

The Salukis were not the only team that struggled with the weather. In the final round, not one team shot below 300 and individual scores skyrocketed. SIU Coach Leroy Newton said conditions were much tougher on Tuesday compared to Monday.


“One of the kids who was winning the tournament yesterday (McNeese State’s Geoff Fry), shot an 85 today after shooting a 69,” Newton said in a Saluki Athletics press release. “That’s how much harder it was playing today.”

SIU entered Tuesday’s third round in 12th place. The team shot a 618 through the first two rounds, good enough for a 42 over par. On Tuesday the team continued to struggle and ended the tournament at 78 over par.

The University of Louisiana Monroe won the tournament shooting 25-over as a team.

Sophomore Drew Novara’s first round score of 75 was the lowest for the Salukis, and on Tuesday not one SIU golfer shot below 80. He said the tournament started promising, but a poor approach to some of his shots was his downfall.

“I was okay then I got a little too cautious,” he said. “Got a little nervous and just tried to guide the shot instead of just hitting it, which got me in trouble more than anything.”

Novara ended the two-day tournament tied for 36th, shooting 232. Junior Steve Souchek finished just four strokes behind Novara and tied for 51st. Junior Wade Thompson shot a 237 and tied for 53rd.

Senior Caleb Harms tied for 61st with a score of 239 and senior George Tate rounded out the club with a 254, and came in 73rd.


One reason for the high scores could be the team’s lack of practice time prior to, and throughout, the season. Ice and snow kept the team from practicing before its first match and a congested schedule forced the team to go without practice or qualifying for the Samford Intercollegiate, its second event.

Newton said the minimal practice time the team has had could be catching up to them.

“I think it is (affecting the players),” he said. “They haven’t hit enough balls other than in tournaments and you don’t try to do anything but play well in tournaments.”

Newton said the team likes to practice one aspect of the game at a time and tournaments are too important to worry about anything but a good score. Novara said the lack of practice is a negative factor but the team should be able to overcome it.

“It would have been nice to get out and practice when we had snow on the ground but I think at this point of the year most of the rust needs to be off,” Novara said. “We just got to keep working hard, getting ready for conference and keep getting better.”

After starting the season with a third place finish, the team have played poorly in two of the last three tournaments. At the Samford, they finished second to last, and then ended a tournament in Tennessee in fifth before this week’s last place finish.

However, the teams are not worried about their play just yet. Harms, a captain on the team, said they just need a few days on the driving range.

“I think we can turn it around,” he said. “We’ll have to get our practice in this week but I think we’ll be okay when we get to conference.”

The teams have a few weeks off before they tee off in Jonesboro, Ark., at the Arkansas State Red Wolves Intercollegiate. SIU has just two more tournaments before the conference tournament on April 28.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter at TDavis_DE, or at 539-3311 ext. 269.