By Brandon Spratt
SJU golf rallied from 10 shots back on day two to win their home meet, the St. John’s Fall Invitational.
The Johnnies were led on day one by senior Sam Olson who shot a two over par round of 74.
“After the first round, we basically looked at it and said we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot too badly,” Olson said.
The opening round on Saturday was at Blackberry Ridge Golf Club in Sartell. The Johnnies practice on this course nearly every day during the season.
“I think after that first round sometimes frankly it’s hard to play at your home course,” SJU Head Coach Bob Alpers said.
Alpers believes that his golfers may have put extra pressure on themselves to perform given their familiarity with the course.
Sophomore Matt Lutz was four over par after Saturday’s round.
“At Saturday’s course the last five holes can really get to you,” Lutz said.
The mood around the team was optimistic as darkness approached on Saturday evening.
“We’re gonna play great tomorrow, I know we are because we’ve been so very, very close,” Alpers said after Saturday’s round.
And play well they did. The Johnnies stormed back at Greystone Golf Club in Sauk Centre on Sunday.
After the opening nine holes, SJU had closed the gap to just a few shots behind the University of Manitoba.
“If you take care of beating the other three guys in your group…we can’t lose,” Olson said.
Heading into the final hole, SJU had surpassed UW-Eau Claire, the team they trailed by nine shots heading into the day.
However, Olson who had a bogey on the final hole to finish the tournament, tied for first with Manitoba. Manitoba is not an NCAA school because they are from Canada. Therefore, the Johnnies won in the eyes of the NCAA.
Lutz recorded a two under par round of 70 on Sunday, which included four birdies. His two over par total for the tournament tied him for second overall amongst 99 golfers.
Lutz was both SJU Athlete of the Week and MIAC Men’s Golf Athlete of the Week for his performance.
SJU golf will play in the three-day Twin Cities Classic starting on Saturday.
“We don’t look too far in advance, we definitely don’t look behind us.” Olson said. “You celebrate the win the night of and at that point you wake up the next morning [to focus on the next tournament].”
The tournament starts at Elk River Country Club on Saturday before moving to The Links at Northfork in Ramsey on Sunday. The tournament will conclude at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan on Monday.
“I actually really like Elk River Country Club…it’s a really short golf course, so I can take advantage of my length and kind of just overpower it,” Olson said.
“It’s a weird tournament because the host school (Gustavus) isn’t going to be there,” Alpers said.
Regardless of the host school, SJU will be aiming to build momentum toward the MIAC Championships at the end of September. They already took a big step toward that with their win last weekend.