North Texas Daily

Men’s golf finishes 9th among loaded John Hayt Classic field

Men’s golf finishes 9th among loaded John Hayt Classic field

February 28
23:58 2016

Austin Jackson | Staff Writer 


North Texas men’s golf held tough against some of the nation’s top teams this weekend at the John Hayt Invitational, but flew home from Florida tied for 9th place with No. 48 Liberty University.

The Mean Green faced eight of the nation’s top 50 teams at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida, including the eventual winner No. 13 Oklahoma State University, No. 23 University of California Los Angeles and current C-USA favorite No 38. University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Undaunted, North Texas got top-15 finishes from sophomore Michael Cotton and junior Cory Churchman, who finished the tournament at even-par, tying for 6th place.  

“This whole tournament, I’ve really believed that I belong and that I can play with anyone,” Churchman said.

On Saturday, Churchman set a career-best 5-under par 67, passing 18 players on the leaderboard and entering his final round alone in 3rd place. Churchman had six birdies on the day, five of which came at holes six through 11.

“The main thing was my mindset,” Churchman said.”Anytime something good happened, I wasn’t surprised, and if something bad happened, I wasn’t bothered by it. I made some testy par saves coming in that held it all together.”

After Churchman started Sunday’s final round with a triple bogey and a bogey, he went two-under through the final 16 to shoot a 74, claiming his second top-10 finish of the season.

Men’s head golf coach Brad Stracke said he was pleased to see Churchman play well, hoping the junior captain would carry the confidence into the future.

“[I’m] very happy for Cory,” Stracke said. “He has worked tirelessly. He deserves to play well.”

Both Churchman and sophomore Michael Cotton took advantage of the par 5’s, each averaging 4.42 strokes, tying for the second best average of the field.

Cotton began his tournament with a roller coaster front nine, posting four birdies, four bogeys and one triple bogey to go three over. But later, he settled and found his stride on the back 9, going 2-under to post an opening round 73.  

“The first round was definitely interesting,” Cotton said. “The front was extremely up and down, but I hung in there until that triple on 9. Then on the back, I got things straightened out and made some putts.”

After a second round 75, the sophomore saved his best round for last with an even-par 72, rising two spots ahead to finish tied for 12th.

“I seemed to make mistakes and turn opportunities into bogeys,” Cotton said. “But I do feel my game is in a good spot.”

Cotton and freshman Thomas Rosenmueller were the only North Texas players to move up the leaderboard in Sunday’s final round. 

Rosenmueller leads the team in scoring average averaging just over 71 strokes per round, but in two appearances this spring, he hasn’t played to the lofty standards he set in the fall. The freshman followed his 6-over 78 opening round by having his worst 18 hole performance of his North Texas career, posting a 10-over 82.

But on Saturday, Stracke predicted the 19-year-old German would turn his game around.

“Thomas has struggled this spring so far,” Stracke said. “But I believe he will have a great round tomorrow and help us move up the leaderboard.”

Rosenmueller proved Stracke mostly clairvoyant, shaving seven strokes off his second round with a final round three-over 75. However, it was still not enough to match the fields low scores in the final round to take North Texas up the leaderboard.

Freshman Ian Snyman dropped 13 spots to tie for 59th after a final round 77 to match junior Colin Pearson, who dropped seven spots to finish tied for 80th.

Stracke said the team’s issues navigating Sawgrass Country Club, the home of the PGA Tour Players Championship from 1977 to 1981, have been a learning experience.

“Sawgrass Country Club is a phenomenal golf course. That gave some valuable lessons to our team,” Stracke said. “It reveals your weakness and in the end helps you improve as a player.”

The Mean Green’s next event will be on March 7 and 8 at Colleton River in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Featured Image: Courtesy

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