Busters improve at N.M. golf
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Playing a stacked field at the High Country Shootout in Ruidoso, N.M., on Sunday and Monday, the Garden City Community College golf team shot what head coach Phil Terpstra said was the team's best three-round score in two years.
With teams such as 2012-13 champion South Mountain in the field, Terpstra knew it would be an uphill climb for his young squad. Yet, they posted a 1-over-par 865 in the two-day, 54-hole tournament at The Links at Sierra Blanca, good enough for eighth out of 12 teams.
"I think we're heading in the right direction," Terpstra said. "We've still got a lot of room for improvement, but the team score is getting there."
The reason Terpstra was encouraged with an eighth-place finish was because six of the seven teams that finished in front of the Busters were ranked in either NJCAA Division I or D-II or were in "others receiving votes."
That included South Mountain (Ariz.) C.C., which is ranked first in D-II, yet was only able to place sixth in Ruidoso with an 852. Midland (Texas) JC, ranked fifth in D-I, took the top spot at The Links, with an 830. Midland was followed by New Mexico J.C., Ranger (Texas) College, Odessa (Texas) C.C., Dodge City, South Mountain and Western Texas C.C., which totaled an 861, four strokes in front of Garden City.
"We played against some really good teams," Terpstra said, "so it kind of shows us how we stack up. We're close. We're not too far off."
Sophomore Matt LeGrange paced the Busters, firing a 2-under-par 214 (72-73-69). Freshman Alex Piper wasn't far behind with an even-par 216 (72-76-68). All three of LeGrange's and Piper's rounds were used in the four-man team score for each of the three rounds.
In the opening round on Sunday, freshman Sam Cooney's 74 and sophomore Nick Mann's 72 were used to compile a 2-over 290. Due to weather, the second round was delayed on Sunday, causing the Busters to finish their second round on Monday. This time, Mann's 70 and freshman Nathan Forest's 67 were used along with LeGrange's and Piper's score for a 286 total, 2-under-par, leaving the Busters at even par after two rounds.
In the final round, Cooney's 74 and Forest's 78 joined LeGrange's and Piper's rounds for a 1-over 289.
Cooney finished with a 229 (74-81-74), while Mann shot a 227 (72-70-85), and Forest came in with a 224 (79-67-78).
Freshman Mark Crossan, whose scores did not count as the sixth man, acquitted himself well with a 228 (75-71-82).
The area the Busters need to address, Terpstra said, was the inconsistency. Each golfer had low rounds, but they usually balanced those rounds out with a high round, such as Mann's 85, Cooney's 81 and Crossan's 82.
Even in a single round, the play is inconsistent, Terpstra said. LeGrange had eight birdies in his final round on Tuesday, but limited his score because of a quadruple bogey on a par 3, turning an outstanding round into just a very good 69.
Terpstra said it was good experience between Jayhawk Conference tournaments for the Busters, though, as they are idle until Sunday and Monday, when they travel to Lawrence for the third conference event of the year.