Courtesy of LaGrange Daily News
The LaGrange College Panthers proved they can hang with the scholarship schools. Competing in the Rome News-Tribune Invitational at Stonebridge Golf Club in Rome, the Panthers came in fourth in an 18-team field that included mostly NAIA schools that offer scholarships.
LaGrange College was one of three NCAA Division III schools in the field, and those schools don't have athletic scholarships. "I told the guys I was very proud of them up there against all of those scholarship schools, and we had the youngest team up there," LaGrange College coach Lee Richter said. "It was a good finish."
On a day when the weather turned sour, the Panthers persevered and shot a final-round 303 to finish one shot out of third. Cumberlands, with a two-day total of 582, won the team title by one shot over Lee (583), followed by Reinhardt (594), LaGrange College (595) and Indiana Wesleyan (602). Nearly every team in the field had a significantly higher score on Day 2 because of the weather. Monday's round was played in pristine conditions, but it was wet, windy and cool on Tuesday.
"I told them before they got off the bus that we'll see how strong you are mentally today," Richter said. The Panthers proved their mettle with four players posting scores in the 70s. Brian Moore, who struggled in the first round with an 80, rebounded in Round 2 with a team-best 73. "He played really well today," Richter said. "He hit his tee ball. He's real long. If he can get the ball in the fairway, he can score."
Hunter Keener, who had a 70 in the first round, shot a 75 in the second round and finished tied for fifth in the individual standings. Hudson Keener followed up his first-round 71 with a 76, a round that would have been considerably better if not for a triple bogey on the final hole. Hudson Keener still finished tied for eighth. Taylor Wynn shot a 79 Tuesday after opening with a 74. Freddie Wolford posted scores of 77 and 81.
"It was one of those days where it wasn't real fun to be on the golf course," Richter said. "It was cold, raining and windy most of the day. "I'm just thrilled to death with how they persevered in the conditions."
Next up for the Panthers will be the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational, which will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Joining LaGrange College in the field will be many of the best Division III teams in the country. "It'll be about like a national championship," Richter said.