Senior Petter Mikalsen (Stavanger, Norway) and junior Chris Korte (Littleton, Colorado) earned first-team All-Summit honors on Sunday, April 30, and they showed why when play began at the 35th Summit League Championship the next day.
The championship was held at the Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kansas. The course plays at a par 72 and is relatively short compared to what the squad has seen thus far this season at 6,733 yards. The golf course represents a mixture of historical golf course design elements. It carries on an old Scottish golf tradition of playing alongside town railways, and the par five 16th hole is a recreation of the Road Hole green found at what is widely considered the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Due to rain and flooding on the course, play that was originally scheduled for Sunday was postponed, and players were expected to get in their first two loops on Monday. The tough conditions persisted into Monday, and players battled high winds throughout the first 36 holes.
This didn’t stop Mikalsen and Korte from grinding their way into contention, however. Mikalsen was able to finish the day at three over par by shooting 73 and 74. Korte would match him at three over par with rounds of 78 and 69. They both sat in a tie for fifth. Freshman Isaac Petersilie (Colorado Springs, Colorado) also had a strong showing on day one, finishing in a tie for 26th with rounds of 76 and 77. The team was alone in fifth place entering the final round, shooting a total of 601 (305-296).
“This afternoon went great. Shot three under par and didn’t really have too many errant shots. Only made one bogey, and having an eagle on 16 was really nice, too,” said Korte after his strong performance Monday afternoon. “I think everybody [on the team]has the talent to shoot under par out here, and I think we have a good shot at winning.”
All around, the team showed up to play on Tuesday. The low rounds of the day for the Crimson and Gold went to junior Jake Kelley (Littleton, Colorado) and freshman Eric Hagen (Aberdeen, Washington), who both carded one under par 71s. Mikalsen earned a top-10 finish with a final round even par 72 and would end up in a tie for ninth on the individual leaderboard. Korte shot a one over par 73 to finish alone in 12th. Petersilie fired a closing two over par 74, and the team would ultimately fall one spot into the sixth position.
“The guys played really solid all year, so it was really tough for us to not play well here in Kansas and to end the season like this,” said Head Coach Erik Billinger following the final round. “Yesterday, the high winds and this golf course got the best of us. Overall, this year was a big step forward in the right direction in many areas, and the future is still bright.”
For the Pioneers, the season ends in slight disappointment, walking away without the trophy, but as Head Coach Erik Billinger said, the future is bright.
The squad finished up with the lowest scoring average of all Summit League teams at 294.5 strokes/round, almost an entire stroke lower than the 2016-17 Summit League Champion South Dakota State.
With a couple of exciting newcomers to join the team next year, continued improvement is almost a guarantee. The squad will have some time off to enjoy but will be back to work shortly for the 2017-18 season.