Busters finish season eighth at districts, ending season early

4/29/2014

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

A rocky two days for the Garden City Community College golf team ended with an eighth-place finish at the NJCAA District III Championship.

At the Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, the Broncbusters shot a third-round score of 331 on Tuesday, rounding out a 54-hole total of 996 at the 10-team tournament and failing to qualify for the national tournament.

Indian Hills, Iowa, continued its domination of the event, beating the field by four strokes in the third round with a 301 and finishing off a 17-stroke victory with a 301-300-301--902 team score, 38-over par.

"You can obviously tell in the scores we didn't play our best golf," Buster head coach Matt Christian said.

A big rebound day by the Busters' Nathan Forrest, shooting a team-low 77 in the third round, helped him finish tied for 32nd with a 246, leading the Busters. The 5-over 77 followed a second round score of 78, which was nine shots better than his opening round 87.

"I think Nathan played a great tournament for two rounds — a very good tournament," the first-year coach said of Forrest. "His first round, he just put too much pressure on himself, and he forgot to just relax and play golf."

Christian praised Forrest's demeanor on the course.

"I couldn't ask for a better representative of Garden City Community College and this team than Nathan Forrest," Christian said.

On the flipside, Christian said he withdrew another Buster, Matthew LeGrange, for his demeanor on the course on day one of the event.

According to Christian, on LeGrange's ninth hole of his first round, the sophomore had a bad shot from a greenside bunker and reacted by "hammer tossing" the sand rake "at least 20 to 30 yards."

On the next hole, LeGrange hit his drive out of bounds and threw his club.

At that point, Christian had a brief discussion with LeGrange, and then consulted other coaches to gather advice on what he should do in that situation.

"I briefly spoke with (LeGrange), and the more I thought about it and the more I talked to other coaches about what I should do, I knew my first feeling was right, which was to remove him from the tournament," Christian said.

Christian said he told LeGrange to finish out the round, but that he would be disqualified and would not be able to finish the tournament.

"It was truthfully about doing the right thing," Christian said.

LeGrange disregarded the directive, according to Christian, and began to play his second round. Christian asked the course professionals to escort LeGrange off of the course.

"It was embarrassing as our couch and as a golfer," Christian said. "I've got one of my players absolutely ruining the experience (for other players)."

Christian said that other consequences may be levied in the days ahead.

"At this time, we're looking at overall aspects of what to do with this," Christian said.

The incident took its toll on the Busters' play, as well, during the tournament, Christian said.

"It really kind of set the energy for the rest of the day," he said. "Every (other) player was very disappointed."

LeGrange came into the tournament as the Busters' No. 1 golfer, and he left the team with only four players eligible for use in team scores while other teams played with five to count the four best scores.

"It put a lot of pressure on an inexperienced player in Lane Sherer," Christian said about the team's No. 5 golfer.

Sherer finished with an 84 in the third and final round for a 90-88-84--262 tournament, but Christian said it could have been much better if his putts were sharper.

"He was the most improved ball striker on our team," Christian said, noting that Sherer was on the green in regulation consistently but would 3-putt for a bogey. "He could easily shoot a 72 out there."

Sam Cooney ended the tournament with an 83 in round three, adding to an 83-80 he shot on day one, for a total of 246, tied for 38th with teammate Alex Piper, who struggled in the final round with an 87 after rounds of 81 and 78. He entered the final round in 27th.

"I'm very disappointed with Alex's play," Christian said of the freshman from Eastbourne, England. "He has the ability to be a low-70 player week in and week out on any course we play — period."

Instead, Christian said, he's been falling short.

"He hasn't lived up to any of his potential or his own hype, either," Christian said. "At some point, you've got to put up the number, and it's not about how pretty your swing is or your talent, you've got to put up a number. I've been telling him that all year."

Christian said Cooney had the opposite problem of Sherer — great short game but inconsistent as a ball striker.

"If he could learn how to hit the ball better, he's got a fantastic short game," Christian said.

The Busters' designated sixth golfer (a player predesignated to golf as an individual and whose scores may not be counted toward team scores), Slade Loewen, finished with an 85-84-88--257 for 47th place.

"He could potentially be an impact player next year on our team, mostly because he was given an opportunity to play golf," Christian said of the freshman from Ingalls.

Hutchinson was the lowest Region VI team with 304-304-311--919 score, finishing in second place overall. Dodge City was third with a 317-307-305--929.

Indian Hills swept the top four individual places, with the tournament winner Colin Pearson (224) defeating teammate George Trujillo (224) in a playoff for first place. Jakob Garsticki was third at 225 and designated sixth golfer Luke Monson was fourth at 226.

But Christian said the best attribute that Indian Hills possessed was efficiency on the course.

"I watched them warm up, and I watched our guys warm up, I believe we hit it better than they hit," the first-year coach said. "Where they are much better than us is scoring efficiency from 100 yards and in."

The tournament wraps up an up-and-down season for the Busters, which began in the fall, and in which Christian was hired in January.

"We were a great team early on in the (spring) season," Christian said. "Our first tournament at Roswell (on Feb. 23), all the way until Junction City (KJCCC No. 5 tournament on April 7). That was the turning point where our team lost its unity.

"When they lost the unity, and they became individuals, we deteriorated on the golf course," he said.

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