GVSU Golf Wins GLIAC Championship
Solid play around the greens as well as consistency in keeping the ball in the fairway led the Grand Valley State University men’s golf team to a GLIAC Conference Championship Monday.
But the team didn’t just win — it dominated. Its 16-stroke margin of victory was largest in the GLIAC Conference Championship since the Lakers won in 2009 by 20 strokes.
The win at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Mich, was the program’s fifth GLIAC title in history and first since that dynamic victory two years ago.
Sophomore Chris Cunningham finished first in the individual results, claiming the individual GLIAC Championship with a one-over, 217. Meanwhile, senior Nick Gunthorpe finished second, only two shots back. The tandem led the Lakers to a 54-hole total of 887.
“Both those guys played great,” said GVSU head coach Don Underwood. “They were just solid all weekend long. Going into the year I thought both guys had the ability to play as good as anybody in our conference.”
Cunningham also became the first Laker to take home medalist honors at the GLIAC Championship since Matt Malloure did it in 2007, when he also shot a 217 over 54 holes.
“Toward the end of the round I knew I had [Gunthorpe] by a couple shots and he rattled off three straight birdies,” Cunningham said. “It was more excitement than nerves. Deep down the competitor inside of me definitely wanted to win, but I wasn’t going to be upset coming in second place to a teammate.”
Cunningham paved the way thanks to rounds of 73, 71 and 73, but Gunthorpe also remained consistent with rounds of 73, 72 and 74.
The Laker’s 23-over par total score greatly outpaced second-place Tiffin University, who finished at 39-over par. Wayne State University, Northwood University and Ferris State University rounded out the top five.
“I saw a lot of good golf shots out there,” Underwood said. “We kept the ball in play, for the most part, off the tee, and around the greens I saw just a lot of real quality golf shots.”
GVSU had opened play on Sunday with a low round of 290, six shots clear of Wayne State and 17 shots ahead of Ashland and Northwood. They stepped on the gas and shot a second-round total of 295 to take a comfortable 15-stroke lead over Wayne State into the final round.
Even with part of the second round called due to darkness Sunday evening and many of the players having to finish that round, along with the third and final round, Monday, nothing held back the Lakers, breezing through the final round with a 302.
Sophomore Jack Rider tied for fifth place individually with rounds of 71, 79 and 72, coming in at six over par. Senior Travis Shooks began the final round in a tie for ninth place thanks to rounds of 77 and 73, but ended up tied for 24th after shooting a final round 83 to finish at 17-over par. Finally, junior Chase Olsen completed the scoring for GVSU as he finished in a tie for 41st with rounds of 73, 81 and 86.
“It feels really great,” Gunthorpe said. “All week our coach told us to overcome adversity and on the golf course we played it wasn’t easy. I think all the guys did that and that is why we won. Going forward that is going to be the key for the rest of the year, even in the spring, is overcoming adversity and seeing what you’re made of.”
By winning the GLIAC Conference Championship, GVSU earns automatic exemption into the first stage of the national qualifying process, being able to play in the super regional come May.
“They are a happy bunch of guys,” Underwood said. “You always want to start by winning your league and that is what we did this weekend. I am proud of what they did.”
GVSU will wrap up their fall schedule on Friday and Saturday at Red Hawk Run Golf Course in Findlay, Ohio for the Outback Steakhouse Invitational.
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