Point Park finishes in 22nd place at NAIA Men's Golf National Championship
May 16, 2013 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Senior Billy Wivell led the Pioneers with a 76 in the 3rd Rd and at 16-over for the NAIA tournament. Photo: Nichelle Navarro.
SALEM, Ore. -- Point Park University finished in 22nd place of 28 teams at the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship after missing the cut with a team score of 316 on Thursday. The Pioneers, who shot 309 and 310 in the first two rounds, were five spots out of the cut line of 17th place needed to play the final round on Friday at Creekside Golf Club.
Despite the disapointment of not making the cut, it was a good showing for the Pioneers in their first NAIA national tournament since 1969, especially considering the program is in just its fourth year since being reinstated in 2009. The school did not sponsor a men's golf team for the 37 years from 1972 to 2009.
"To get to the NAIA tournament in four years, I couldn't be happier," said Point Park head coach Gabe Bubon. "We've experienced the lowest of the lowest and now the highest of the highest the last four years. It's a big accomplishment getting here, and now we know what it's all about, and hopefully we can get back here and next time make the cut or place in the top 10."
Point Park's national tournament this year featured some good golf at times but also not enough pars on a course that required just that. The Pioneers' score did sag to 316 in the third round Thursday -- their highest of the tournament -- but that was amid some tough scoring conditions in the rain. On top of that, the Pioneers were taking some more chances than usual trying to make up some room on the leaderboard and make the cut. Point Park started the day 10 shots off the cut line.
"We played good, but not great," said Bubon. "We had our chances all three days. There were times when we were playing really great golf, but we didn't finish the rounds. We all wanted to make the cut, but we didn't get it done. It was a big deficit to start the day, and with that, you take some chances maybe more than you would in another situation. This course will make you pay if you miss a pin, and it started to get away from us at that point."
Senior Billy Wivell, from Deer Lakes, Pa., shot a team-best 76 on Thursday, and with that he ended up with the best score for the Pioneers overs the three days at 16-over. Wivell shot rounds of 79, 77 and 76 to tie for 84th place in the field of 154 players.
Junior Chris Bowen, from Bethel Park, Pa., was right after Wivell with a 77 on Thursday and in a tie for 87th overall with a tournament total of 17-over. Bowen shot 78 each of the first two days.
Senior Austin Elder, a native of Warren, Ohio, shot 82 on Thursday to finish at 20-over and a tie for 104th place. Elder was 10-over through 36 holes with rounds of 76 and 78 to open the tournament.
Junior James Daley, from Youngstown, Ohio, finished at 21-over after an 83 in the third round. He shot 76-78 the first two days and finished in a tie for 110th place.
Sophomore Collin Holmes, a native of Avon Lake, Ohio, was next at 22-over. He carded rounds of 80-77-81 on the three days to finish tied for 114th place.
"This was a very tough course," said Bubon of the Peter Jacobsen-designed Creekside Golf Club. "If you miss a shot, you can easily put up a big number because a lot of the pins were sucker pins close the the edge of the green. On a lot of courses, you have a good chance at birdie on a lot of the holes. Here, you had to take par a lot of the time. And if you went for the pin instead of middle of the green, you had to pay if you missed.
"All in all, it was a really great year. We won four tournaments in a row, including the KIAC Tournament. And to get to the NAIA tournament after starting up the program four years ago is tremendous. And this week we showed that we can play at this level. For the guys coming back, they see that, and that's all they've been talking about -- getting back here."
Point Park will return three of the five players who competed in the NAIA national tournament -- juniors Bowen and Daley and sophomore Holmes. Elder and Wivell are graduating as seniors. Elder is the only four-year member of the team, and the only one that still remains from the 2009 team when the program was restarted. Wivell was with the Pioneers the last two years after transferring from CCAC-Allegheny.
The Pioneers' program has come a long way since that 2009 year when they had a team scoring average of 352. Four years year later, Point park won five of the nine tournaments it played in during the 2012-13 school year and had a team scoring average of 303.
Point Park's 22nd-place finish at the NAIA national tournament was the highest national finish for the program since it placed third overall in its only other NAIA appearance in 1969. The Pioneers were led that year by Jim Massrio, who finished fourth individually and went on to be a PGA Tour player.