Point Park looking for more at NAIA Men's Golf National Championship
May 12, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. ET
KIAC Tournament Champions Point Park teeing it up at the NAIA national tournament this week (L to R): Steve Veydt, Collin Holmes, Head Coach Gabe Bubon, Chris Bowen, Eric Poplowski and James Daley.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Point Park University men's golf team is looking for more this year at the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, which begins Tuesday, May 13, a LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. The NAIA's 63rd-annual national tournament features 72 holes Tuesday through Friday.
The KIAC Tournament champion Pioneers are in the national tournament for the second year in a row and are looking to improve on last year's showing. Point Park failed to make the cut in 2013, its first NAIA tourney since 1969 and the first since the program was reinstated at the school in 2009 after a 37-year hiatus.
With three of five players returning from last year's NAIA participants, Point Park would like to do one better than last year when it placed 22nd of 30 teams but failed to get past the 54-hole cut. After three rounds, the field will be cut down once again this year.
"We are very excited to be back in the NAIA national tournament," said Point Park head coach Gabe Bubon. "This year will be different. We're not going to be as shell-shocked. Last year was the first time for all of us, but now we have an understanding of what we have to do. Our goal is to make the cut and then go from there."
Making the cut will put the Pioneers' program among the top 15 or 20 teams in the NAIA, something that would be a huge step for Point Park men's golf. There are 29 teams and 156 players in the national tournament field, and Point Park enters the week in the 'others receiving votes' section of the NAIA Top 25 Poll at No. 35 overall.
The NAIA National Championship will be played at LPGA International, a Rees Jones-designed course that has been "a favorite of Tour players since it opened in 1994," according to the course Web site. It is a traditional, links-style course that measures 7,100 yards and is par 72.
Point Park has plenty of game and experience to compete at NAIAs. The Pioneers have three seniors and two juniors in its starting five that will play at the national tournament. All five players average between 76.06 and 77.31, and the team scoring average is a very-solid 303.4.
Bubon feels that team scores around 300 for the first three rounds will allow Point Park to make the cut. The Pioneers shot 309-310-316 last year to miss the cut by 19 shots. An average score of 305 for the first 54 holes was needed to make the cut in 2013.
"We want to go in and play smart golf," said Bubon. "With a course like (LPGA International), there is a lot of sand, a lot of water. There will be times where we put the driver away and focus on fairways and greens. Playing smart golf and putting together complete rounds of 18 holes will be the key."
Point Park was plagued last year by playing strong golf for 14 or 15 holes but having each player hit bad stretchs for a few holes. Bubon feels experience will be served well to combat that.
"We didn't finish rounds, which is easy to do at the national tournament," he said. "When you have a good round going, you start thinking ahead instead of staying in the moment and taking it shot by shot."
Point Park's top player average-wise is Collin Holmes, a junior who averages a team-best 76.06. The Avon Lake, Ohio, native has finished in the Top 10 in five of the eight events this year.
Holmes is one of three players returning from last year's NAIA tournament team, with the others being seniors James Daley (76.79) from Youngstown, Ohio, and Chris Bowen (76.88) from Bethel Park, Pa. Daley has two Top-10 finishes, and Bowen has three.
The newcomers to Point Park's starting five this year are Eric Poplowski (77.00), a junior from Economy, Pa., and Steve Veydt (77.31), a senior from Cecil, Pa. Poplowski was an junior college All-American at CCAC-Allegheny and played in the NJCAA national tourney the last two years. Veydt, the sixth man a year ago, was the Pioneers' top finisher at the KIAC Tournament in third place individually.
While Point Park had the ability to go lower last year, this year's team is steadier. Point Park has shot under 300 only 4 of 17 rounds during 2013-14, but its high 18-hole score tops out at only 314 this year. The team average is in the middle at 303.41.
"I really feel that we have the talent to do well at NAIAs," said Bubon. "We don't go real low, and we don't go real high. If we stay between 300 and 305, we will be right where we want to be."
Point Park has a tee time of 8:20 a.m. for the first round on Tuesday, May 13. The Pioneers will go off of hole No. 1 as one of the first groups to go off and will play with No. 2-ranked William Woods (Mo.) and British Columbia for the first two rounds. The Pioneers have a tee time of 12:50 p.m. going off of No. 10 for round two on Wednesday, May 14.
The teams will be re-paired according to the leaderboard after 36 holes. The third-round pairings and tee times will be announced Wednesday, May 14 at 10 p.m. ET.
To follow the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, visit the links at the top of this page. There will be Live Scoring provided as well as complete leaderboards published as the end of each day.