SIU stumbles to the finish at Samford

By Tyler Davis

Two weeks removed from its season opening tournament, the SIU men’s golf team ended its second tournament of the season at the bottom of the pack.

University of South Alabama won the Samford Invitational Tournament, posting a total score of 891 during the three rounds. The University of Alabama- Birmingham finished just two strokes behind them and Campbell University rounded out the top three with a score of 906.

SIU finished 15 out of 16 total teams, with a score of 970 for the three rounds and not one Saluki was able to break the top 60 in the field of 89 golfers.


The team had a rough first day in Hoover, Ala., ending Monday with a combined score of 335, 47-over-par. UAB led with a score of 290 for the opening day.

It was not just one bad score that did the team in. All five golfers failed to break 80 during the first round. Sophomore Drew Novara and junior Steve Souchek led the team, both shooting an 81 and tying for 39th place after day one.

Coach Leroy Newton said the first day was terrible from the beginning.

“Today was a disaster,” he said Monday night. “Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong and we didn’t react well.”

Newton said some of the day one struggles were because of the weather the host city was experiencing.

Newton said forecasts predicted warm and breezy weather, and that held true through the practice rounds. When tournament play started, the temperatures dropped and the wind picked up. He said the team was not prepared for the unexpected conditions.

“That weather changed quite a bit between the practice rounds and the real rounds,” Newton said. “It was windy and cold and we were not dressed for it.”


Day two brought better play from the team, particularly in the third round. The final 18 holes were the best as every player shot in the 70s.

Coach Newton said the team looked a lot better on the second day of play.

“I think we shot a 76, 77, 78 and two 79s today, which was a lot better than 87s and 89s,” he said. “If the kids would’ve had a couple more days and the weather was better, I think we’d be in the middle of the pack.”

Sophomore Ryan Haxel had the best finish for any Saluki in his season debut. He tied for 65th, shooting a 242 overall. Novara finished just one stroke behind Haxel, and tied for 69th.

Senior Caleb Harms shot a 76 in the final round but it was not good enough to salvage his tournament as Harms ended Tuesday tied for 76th.

Souchek tied for 72nd and junior Wade Thompson finished the tournament in 82nd place.

Newton said he expects his team to bounce back.

“I think they’ll keep grinding away and they’ll want everybody else to know that they’re a lot better than how they played this weekend,” he said. “And I believe we will show them that.”

Newton said the adversity the team faced during the tournament would be good for them moving forward.

“I think its humbled them a little bit and they know they’re not that bad of golfers,” he said. “We just took it as a learning experience and I think it’s going to help us in the long run.”

The team has a week off and then heads to the Jackson Country Club in Jackson, Tenn., for the University of Tennessee-Martin Grover Page Classic.