The Webster University golf team captured its second straight St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship by shooting a conference-record 874 on April 23 and 24. The 54-hole tournament was held at Forest Park Golf Course.
Blowing away the SLIAC field by 35 strokes, the Gorloks’ score of 874 beat the previous SLIAC record of 886, which Webster set last year.
It’s the fifth conference tournament Webster has won in the last 10 years. Junior Kyler Scott won the individual tournament with a combined score of 212 and was named the SLIAC Player of the Year as a result. The runner-up was freshman Tanner Rabb, who shot a 215 and was named the SLIAC Newcomer of the Year.
Two other Gorloks finished in the top six — junior Steven Kinsman and freshman Matt Vanderbeek.
In the first round, Scott shot a 68, which was the lowest score of the tournament. Scott said he is looking forward to competing against the best teams from around the country in the Division III national tournament, which the Gorloks qualified for with the SLIAC tournament win. But before he plays in that, he said he needs to work on his short game.
“I played very well; this was my best tournament I’ve ever played,” Scott said. “I broke some records and felt really confident out there. The biggest thing going into nationals would be to work on our shorter shots between 20 and 60 yards.”
Coach Andrew Belsky, who was named the SLIAC Coach of the Year, said the team’s goal this year was to win the conference tournament and advance to the national tournament.
“They did a terrific job — to win the conference title was our major goal and we accomplished it,” Belsky said. “And now we are on to the national championship. It was a great effort from the team.”
This is only step one for the team’s progress, as Kinsman said Webster still has a lot of work to do to compete on the national stage.
“We are obviously happy we won conference and are heading to nationals,” Kinsman said. “But at the same time, this was only a step to where we want to be, and we still have work to do before we head down to Florida.”
For them to succeed in the national tournament, the Gorloks will have to overcome mistakes and play with confidence.
“We all seemed to eliminate the big mistakes on certain holes that have haunted us in the past,” Kinsman said. “As long as we keep managing the course better and better each round, then things will continue to look positive.”
The D-III national tournament starts May 15 at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., a course the Gorloks have already played. They traveled there during spring break to play a dual meet against Husson University, which Webster won by two strokes.
“I expect the team to work hard. Beyond that, it’s really hard to tell,” Belsky said. “We’ve gotten several guys that played in the national championships before from last year’s team. And we played the golf course when we went there for spring break and spent the entire time there.
“But at a national championship level, it is a totally different kind of event. Every single player there is good.”