Golf team wraps up regular season with pair of third-place finishes

Webster University junior Steven Kinsman hits a shot during a practice round on March 1 at Sunset Country Club. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

The Webster University golf team completed its regular season earlier this week. For the second time this year, a second round of play was rained out.

In the Weist Foundation Invitational, which began April 13 in Decatur, Ill., the Gorloks shot a 314. It was good enough to place them third in a field of nine teams at the tournament, which featured three other St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams.

Round 2 was canceled because of rain. Webster finished 15 strokes behind first-place Wheaton College but just one shot behind second-place Millikin University.

“I think we would’ve shot better the second day,” junior Steven Kinsman said.  “We had two very good teams in front of us. Passing them would’ve been difficult, but given the right conditions, we could have. It would have been nice to get to play that second round — the scores would have been better. At the same time, there was nothing we could do about it.”

Freshman Tanner Rabb led the Gorloks with a one-over par 73. Rabb finished second overall individually in a field of 56 and was just one stroke behind the leader. Kinsman tied for eighth with a 77. Junior Kyler Scott (79), freshman Matt Vanderbeek (85) and sophomore J.T. Beckmann (88) rounded out Webster’s scoring.

Kinsman feels the added challenge of dealing with weather is part of learning how to become a better golfer.

“We’ve been learning to adapt to the conditions that we’ve been playing in,” Kinsman said. “I think it’s done a lot for us maturing as golfers.”

Webster clinched another third-place finish in its second tournament of the week, the April 16 John McNaughton Memorial Classic in Jacksonville, Ill. The Gorloks improved their aggregate score by shooting a 307. First-place Monmouth College and Illinois Central Community College ended the tournament ahead of Webster.

Kinsman was the Gorloks’ best golfer on the day, as his round of 75 tied him for fifth individually in a field of 68 golfers from 10 schools. Beckmann and Scott tied for seventh with a 76. Rabb shot a 77, and Vanderbeek rounded out Webster’s scoring with a 79, which placed him 15th.

Coach Andrew Belsky said rounds below 80 are the standard for the team.

“That’s the benchmark in golf where (you) say, ‘OK, they are at least reasonable scores.’ Anything above 80 is just a bad score,” Belsky said. “Once you start getting under 80, then you are getting down to the reasonable scores you can use as a team.”

After shooting above 80 for the majority of rounds in previous tournaments this year, Kinsman said working on his chipping and putting have helped him improve his scores.

“Working with coach has helped me eliminate the big misses, especially off-the-tee shots,” Kinsman said. “Basically, just taking one side of the course out of play has been helpful. Managing the golf course better … and maturing as a golfer has definitely been a stepping stone as of late.”

Next up for the Gorloks is the SLIAC championships on April 23 and 24 at Forest Park Golf Course. The tournament is 27 holes and will determine who earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championships. Kinsman said the team’s practices next week will be geared toward working on the Gorloks’ short games.

“We’ll be hitting a lot more wedges, working on our short shots,” Kinsman said. “That should get us tuned up for conference. We’re not quite where we want to be, but we’re not far at all. Another solid week of practice will really boost our confidence going into this.”

The Gorloks will be trying to clinch their second consecutive conference title. Last year, Webster defeated Fontbonne University and Spalding University, who tied for second, by 30 strokes. Belsky said the team’s play this year has instilled confidence for the SLIAC championships and beyond.

“As defending champions, and the fact that nobody in the conference has come close to beating us so far in either the fall or the spring, we have to feel good heading into conference,” Belsky said. “We still have to be careful because anything can happen. I also think that we obviously have not peaked yet. For us, it’s a building process heading toward the national championship.”

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