By John Bray
After last week’s exciting announcement of a top-25 national ranking, the Lords entered last weekend’s Strimer Memorial Invitational with lofty expectations, and somehow they surpassed them.
The Lords set the tone on day one of the two-day event. As a team they shot 300, seven strokes better than second-place Denison University.
Refusing to let up, the Lords continued their strong pace and grew their lead by shooting 303. Their combined two-day score of 603 was 14 strokes better than Denison, who held on to second despite a comeback from host Ohio Wesleyan University.
This is the Lords’ second-straight tournament victory in the spring season. They’ve notched a third-place or better finish in six consecutive tournaments, another impressive feat for a program that has come a long way since Head Coach Grant Wallace took over in 2011.
Wallace assigns two key ingredients to the Lords’ recipe for success: competitive spirit and good, old-fashioned hard work.
“We compete all week in practice and qualifying rounds, so our mindset is to be competitive at all times coming into the tournament,” he said. “The hardest part of our season is making the travel squad due to how competitive it is on our team. The guys are also working hard on their games outside of our normal practice times. Golf is a game that requires hours of prep work and so it is on each team member to find extra time to put in work on their own.”
One player who has certainly reaped the benefits of his extra work is Alex “Mr. Consistent” Blickle ’16, who shot an identical 72 on both days and took home the individual championship. Not only did he win the event, but he also claimed his second North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) golfer of the week award.
Wallace believes Blickle’s extra work is the key to his early-season success. “Alex has put a lot of extra time into his game this year,” he said. “He finds an hour every day to work in the Golf Performance Lab on putting drills and on his swing, so when he is out on the course, his confidence over the ball is sky high. He has also become a smarter player this year, which has led to some great scores each week.”
Sadiq Jiwa ’18 was the biggest surprise of the tournament. His score did not count toward the Lords’ team score, but he finished with a two-day score of 150, good enough for third place individually.
With this one behind them, the Lords have one more tournament before the NCAC championships, the Ted Barclay Invitational hosted by Denison, but the main target is the Championships.
“This team has worked so hard all around this year on their game,” Wallace said. “Everyone has been contributing in some way and after this weekend, we set our sights on the NCAC championship series.
The Lords currently rank second in the Great Lakes regional rankings, behind conference foe Wittenberg University.