A senior and a freshman tied for the team lead as three members of the Valparaiso University men’s golf team carded two under par or better in Sunday’s first round of the Golfweek Program Challenge at True Blue in Myrtle Beach, S.C. That helped the team finish the day six strokes under par and tied for sixth in a competitive 14-team field. Valpo’s 18-hole score of 282 was the second-best single-round performance in program history and the best since 2014.
How It Happened
- After attaining Missouri Valley Conference Golfer of the Week recognition following his collegiate debut, freshman Charlie Toman (Chardon, Ohio / Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) sustained his strong start to the season with a 69 (-3) on Sunday. He enters the second day of competition tied for 11th in a 75-player event.
- The rookie shared the spotlight with a Valpo veteran on Sunday as senior Mitchell Wittmann (Kaukauna, Wis. / Kaukauna) also went three strokes under par with a 69. He too stands at t-11 with 36 holes remaining in the event.
- Sophomore Jack Juskow (Greenville, S.C. / Hamilton Southeastern) was the other big story on Sunday, as his 70 allowed him to become the third Valpo player at two under par or better. He is tied for 21st overall.
- Sophomore Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) is at t-55 through one day after carding a 74 (+2) in the opening round.
- Valpo is in a three-way tie with Austin Peay and South Dakota for sixth in the team standings. Bradley and Stephen F. Austin are just one stroke ahead and tied for fourth. Campbell has the lead at 269, a seven-stroke edge on second-place Delaware. Jesper Svensson of Campbell is the individual leader with a 65.
Inside the Round
- Valpo’s team score of 282 is behind only a 273 in the first round of the 2014 Golfweek Program Challenge in the program record book, which began when the program resumed in 2009 after a long hiatus.
- The score in relation to par of six under is also second only to that round in 2014, when Valpo went 15 under par.
- Valpo edged a second-round Golfweek Program Challenge performance from 2013 for second in program history by one stroke on Sunday.
- Juskow made his season debut after golfing in six rounds and two events as a true freshman. He topped his previous career best (76 in Round 3 of the Crusader Collegiate on Sept. 5, 2017) by six strokes on Sunday.
- Toman’s 69 was the best score of his young career, while Wittmann equaled a personal best with that mark. The Valpo senior previously set a career low with a 69 in the third round of the Ram Masters Invitational on Sept. 20, 2016.
- Valpo racked up 55 pars and 19 birdies as a team on Sunday. Juskow had 14 pars, tied for second in the 75-player field. All five Valpo players hit par at least 10 times. Wittmann led Valpo with six birdies – one of nine players overall with six or more.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“There were a number of positives to take from today's round. This was our fourth competitive round of the year and it was important for us to start posting some team scores under par. Mitch, Jack and Charlie all finished with scores in the red. The team had 19 birdies on the day and still left a good amount of putts out there. Also, this was the best ball-striking day that we have had so far this year with the guys hitting a high percentage of fairways and greens - over 80 percent as a team in both categories.”
“This team has talent and the guys are giving themselves a lot of opportunities to make birdie. Thus far this year, the team is making some good decisions on the golf course, especially off the tee, getting themselves in position to hit the green in regulation and making some putts. All five of them were focused on playing to their individual strengths and hitting high-percentage shots.”
“Mitch only missed two fairways and three greens today. Charlie only missed one green and hit every fairway. The two of them had three three-putts and narrowly missed some birdie attempts. Their ball-striking was exemplary and they did very well playing in the moment.”
Valpo will be back on the course for 18 more holes on Monday as the three-day Golfweek Program Challenge in South Carolina reaches its middle day. Live scoring is available via GolfStat.