Golf team wins Gorlok Spring Invitational
The Webster University men’s golf team won its first tournament of the season in dominating fashion, as the Gorloks clinched their own event by seven strokes on April 4 at the Sunset Country Club.
Webster, Blackburn College and Westminster College participated in the 18-hole tournament. Webster shot a total of 326, and Blackburn, last year’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, shot a 333. Westminster finished 53 shots behind the Gorloks.
“We played pretty well considering the conditions,” freshman Kaleb Kessler said. “It was exciting for us. It’s our home turf, and to beat the people we’re going to be playing in conference, it’s given us a little drive.”
Sophomore Steven Kinsman tied for the best score on the day by shooting a 78. Sophomore Kyler Scott finished in third overall with a 79, while sophomore Dan Klipsch finished fourth with an 84. Senior Robby Meeh’s 85 rounded out the scoring for Webster.
“We could have played so much better,” Scott said. “But we did come out with the ‘W,’ and we did make a statement to our biggest competition in the SLIAC tournament.”
Earlier in the week, on April 1 and 2, the Gorloks placed 11th in a 22-team field at the Illinois Wesleyan Invitational in Bloomington, Illinois. Webster shot a 324 on both days of the tournament for a total score of 648.
The Gorloks finished 42 strokes behind Illinois Wesleyan University, the tournament host and champion. Webster finished five shots out of seventh place.
In both the Gorlok Spring Invitational and the Illinois Wesleyan Invitational, players said the windy conditions caused scores to inflate. Kessler said wind speeds of 30 miles per hour at the Wesleyan tournament wreaked havoc on the field of players.
“It was tough conditions,” Scott said. “For as bad as we felt like we played, there were four or five top 25-ranked teams in the country there. It wasn’t as bad or good as it could have been. But it put us in a good spot to keep working towards the ultimate goal, which is making it to the national tournament.”
Scott tied for 11th in a field of 116 golfers with a 36-hole score of 155 at the Wesleyan Invitational.
Kessler said he got flustered because of the weather during the Gorlok Spring Invitational, causing him to shoot his worst score of the season. To make it to the national tourney, Kessler said the team needs to focus on the mental aspect of their games.
Kessler said he likes the team’s chances to win the SLIAC and make some noise in the postseason if they can be mentally tough.
“We have a really good shot,” Kessler said. “Blackburn, we ran them into the ground. It gives us a mental edge. If we keep it together in our brains and keep bearing down, I think we can really accomplish something at the end of the year and go to nationals.”
Andrew Belsky, who is in his seventh year as coach, said he likes what he’s seen from his team so far. The Gorloks placed third out of eight teams in the PGA Spring Break Invitational on March 11 and 12 to open the spring season.
“Ultimately, our expectations are to be playing in the national championships in May,” Belsky said. “I think we’ll win the conference tournament and I expect us to be in the national championships.”
The Gorloks still have a couple of events left to fine-tune their games in preparation for the postseason. Next up for the squad is the Big Blue Spring Classic on April 8 and 9 in Decatur, Illinois. Webster will play in the John McNaughton Memorial Classic on April 11 in Jacksonville, Illinois.
The SLIAC championship will be played April 18 and 19. This year, the event will take place at the Forest Park Golf Course. Scott thinks the course is set up well for his team.
“I feel really confident about the tournament,” Scott said. “We’ve got a solid five guys that can really contribute. We played there in the fall and we broke the school record once already. The course allows us to really put some good numbers on the board. We’ve just got to play our game that we know we can play. If we do that, then the rest will take care of itself.”