With just a couple days of rest in between tournaments, the Idaho men’s golf team was back in action this weekend at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Burlington, Iowa.
After a forgettable first round, the Idaho men’s golf team answered back and fired a score of 23-under-par in the last 36 holes to finish in third place in the 15-team field.
“The boys are very disappointed,” Idaho coach John Means said. “We had every chance to win that thing, we had every chance. They laid it all on the line there and they played phenomenal golf for the last 36 holes … I was so proud of those guys.”
Idaho finished the tournament 18-under-par 846, which was just four strokes back of Iowa, who won the tournament with a score of 22-under-par 842. North Carolina State came in second place, just one stroke ahead of the Vandals at 19-under-par 845.
Idaho had just come off a fifth place finish at the Husky Invitational last week, and with only one day to rest the team was on a plane headed for Iowa.
Despite the lack of time in between tournaments, Means said it was an opportunity they couldn’t turn down.
“We didn’t have any practice time at all, but we had an opportunity to play in a great tournament,” Means said. “We went there, played a practice round, the guys were tired … we came out the next day and we hit the ball worse than any team I’ve ever seen. We hit it horribly.
“They were hitting it right, hitting it left, they didn’t know where it was going — and you can’t make those corrections on the golf course.”
After the first round, Means said the team was out on the range the next day at 5 a.m., working out the kinks in the team’s game. The early start was helpful as Idaho went on to fire the second lowest score in round two and shot up the leaderboard.
“I’ve never, in all my time, seen a team that was able to come back from 22 strokes back in one day,” Means said. “It just doesn’t happen in college golf. Teams are too good.”
The team improved on its stellar second round score and fired the lowest score, a 276, in the third and final round of the tournament.
For the second straight tournament, Jake Scarrow led the Vandals with a seventh place finish. The freshman from British Columbia, Canada, finished the tournament at 6-under-par 210.
“His length helps him on par fives,” Means said of Scarrow. “He has a good short game and a very good putter — he’s confident. He’s comfortable with the guys. They can give him all the crap in the world and he just grins.”
The field at the Golfweek Conference Challenge was full of top teams. Among them was the defending national champion, Louisiana State. Despite their elite prowess, the Tigers finished the tournament in ninth place.
“I don’t know what happened to them,” Means said of LSU. “Just a bad tournament.”
The Vandals also placed ahead of top programs such as Southern Methodist and Kansas State.
With back-to-back top five finishes, Idaho is now the No. 59-ranked team in the country, according to Golfweek.com.
Despite the improvement, Means said the team isn’t satisfied.
“We never get any respect,” Means said. “We’re Idaho. What pissed the team off was that we lost. We shot 23-under-par the last two rounds, which is better than any team has ever done.”
The Vandals will be back in action Oct. 3 in Maricopa, Arizona, for the Southern Dunes Collegiate tournament.
Korbin McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KorbinMcD_VN