Wolves' season culminates with a tie for fourth at the SAC Tournament

Wolves' season culminates with a tie for fourth at the SAC Tournament
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | by Chas Goodwin, Athletic Communications Assistant

MARVIN, N.C. – The Newberry Wolves men’s golf team finished up the second and final round of the 2015 South Atlantic Conference Championship Tournament on Tuesday afternoon with a team score of 305, three strokes better than Monday’s round. The Wolves completed the tournament with a score of 613 to tie for fourth place, the seventh time in the past eight years that Newberry has finished in the top five at the SAC Tournament.

The originally scheduled three-day, 54-hole event took place at the par-72, 6,904-yard Firethorne Country Club, but rain spoiled the first round on Sunday, shortening the tournament to two days and 36 holes.

The Tusculum Pioneers took home the championship as they posted a tournament best 295 in Monday’s round en route to a 597 team score, besting the Wingate Bulldogs by two strokes (599).

Host Queens University of Charlotte came in third with a 610 while Newberry and Lincoln Memorial rounded out the top five team scores with a 613 each to tied for fourth.

Tusculum’s Nick Forsberg was the individual medalist with a 1-under par 143 (70 and 73). Wingate’s Benedict Gebhardt finished as the runner-up at 2-over par (146) while teammate Phillip Konnikov was third, just one stroke back of Gebhardt (147).

Coker’s Alex Rios (148) and Queen’s Evan Ruhling (149) completed the top five individual placers.

"We struggled again today," Newberry men's golf coach Howard Vroon stated. "The guys are very disappointed. We have played some very good golf this spring and we had high hopes for this event, but we just could not figure this golf course out. We'd play stretches of holes where we would fail to execute shot after shot and we putted very poorly, from a pace perspective. That is very uncharacteristic of this group, and we leave here very disappointed."

Senior Ryan Wilkinson (Gallivants Ferry, S.C.) completed his final South Atlantic Conference with a spot on the All-Tournament second team, coming in ninth place on the individual leaderboard. Wilkinson improved one stroke from Monday’s round to card a 151 (76 and 75) for his 36-hole total score.

This marks Wilkinson’s third top 10 finish of the season and the fourth of his career. Throughout his four years on the squad, the 2015 all-SAC honorable mention selection competed in 58 rounds, averaging 76.67 strokes per round to rank eighth in the all-time leader boards. He shot his career low round (68) in the second round of the Trojan Invitational en route to his lowest 54-hole score (215) and his highest finish of the 2015 season (3rd).  His best overall placement came when he won the Campbell Oil/Sunaco Open in 2014.

Fellow senior Tommy Hurst (Miami, Fla.) also played in his final SAC event, shooting a combined score of 155 (79 and 76) to finish tied for 27th. Hurst was named an all-SAC second team selection this past Thursday and leaves Newberry with a career 75.4 scoring average.

Hurst competed in 78 total rounds which ranks fifth in the all-time record books. His 75.4 career scoring average sits just ahead of Wilkinson in seventh place all time while racking up six top 10 finishes, five of which came in the top five.

This season Hurst averaged 74.7 strokes per round while shooting career low rounds in the rain-shortened Kiawah Island Invitational and the Lander Bearcat Classic (68). At the Lander Bearcat Classic he tallied an 8-under par 208, his lowest 54-hole score, en route to finishing as the runner-up for the second time on the season, the other was at the Kiawah Island Invitational.

Sophomore Evan DeGrazia (Thunder Bay, Canada) posted the lowest round of the tournament for the Wolves with a 2-over par 74 in Tuesday’s final round, six strokes better than his day one score. DeGrazia finished tied for 22nd place with a score of 154 (80 and 74) after shooting back-to-back birdies on holes 17 and 18. He competed in 12 rounds this season and averaged 74.2 strokes, with a pair of top 20 finishes and 10 of 12 rounds coming in at 75 or better.

Junior Fredrik Fossum (Levanger, Norway) had a tough day on the scorecard but turned in a couple of remarkable recovery shots to keep him toward the top of the leaderboard. Fossum finished the day with an 80, putting him tied for 27th with a 155 total score (75 and 80). For the season, Fossum competed in 19 of 23 rounds, shooting an average of 76.8 with three finishes in the top 30.

Sophomore Luke Atack (Hamilton, Canada) rounded out the scorecard for Newberry with an 82 for the final 18 holes. He finished tied for 41st for the event with a two-day score of 160 (78 and 82). Atack competed in 16 of the 23 rounds this season, posting a 75.6 stroke per round average. He tallied three top 35 finishes that included a tie for fourth place at the Trojan Invitational after accumulating a 216 on his scorecard (71, 72 and 73).

The South Atlantic Conference Championship Tournament concludes the 2015 season for the Wolves, and the careers of two other key members of the Newberry men’s golf team.

John Paul Ferguson (Travelers Rest, S.C.) competed in 44 rounds in his four year career at Newberry with a 79.1 stroke per round average. He posted his career low round and tournament score at the University of North Georgia Fall Invitational this past fall. He shot a 70 in the final round on the way to a 218 54-hole score (71, 77 and 70) and a tie for 16th place.

Nick Lussier (Barton, Vt.) also has his career come to a close. He took part in 26 rounds in the scarlet and gray, tallying a 78.5 stroke per round average. He tied his career low of 73 in the third round of the University of North Georgia Fall Invitational this past fall and went on to card a career low 54-hole score of 222 (75, 74 and 73). 

"I want to thank our three senior captains, all of whom were on this trip," Vroon stated.

"JP Ferguson has made a tremendous difference in turning this program around. He is a three year captain, elected by his peers, and he cares deeply about his teammates, and it shows. That type of leadership is priceless and JP has left an indelible mark on the program, his shoes will be hard to fill."

"Tommy Hurst is a two year captain who leads by example, as he is the hardest working player on this team, and one of the hardest workers I have ever coached. He also played some very, very good golf for us, and he is constantly improving. His best golf is not far ahead of him."

"This was Ryan Wilkinson's first year as a captain, but he has blended easily into the role. He is also a tireless worker, and a gifted player. He is quiet, but very competitive, and we needed that this year. We will miss him very much."

"These three players cannot be replaced, and the program is indebted to them. Next year will be a very challenging year for the team, from a leadership perspective, as we look to younger players to lead. We have some very capable young men waiting in the wings and I am looking forward with great anticipation to their growth and development as students, players and leaders."