By: Brenna Jefferies
The ACU Wildcats golf team finished strong at the NCAA Division II Championship Preview Tournament, placing fourth among 19 teams.
The two-day tournament, which featured five of the nation’s top 12 ranked teams, was played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at the Shoals Fighting Joe Course in Ford City, Ala., the same location for the Championship Tournament scheduled in May 2011.
Chico State University placed first, with tournament host North Alabama University taking the runner-up spot. The University of Indianapolis edged out ACU by a mere two strokes for third place.
After the first day of play the Wildcats were tied for third after shooting a one over par 289.Â The Wildcats turned in a 293 the following day for a two-day total of 582, 11 shots back of tournament winner Chico State.
ACU sophomore Alex Carpenter won the individual medalist title, finishing at 5-under-par 139.Â Carpenter was in eighth after the first day of play in the individual standing after shooting a 1-under-par 71.Â On the following day, Carpenter fired a blistering 68 to come from behind and capture the individual title by one stroke. His teammate, ACU senior Cyril Bouniol, came in third at 141.
“I played pretty good the first day,” Carpenter said. “I played four under, nothing special. The second day the conditions were harder and so I definitely took advantage of that.”
As a freshman, Carpenter earned the Phil Mickelson Award as the most outstanding freshman in NCAA Division II men’s golf.Â He was also named Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year in the Lone Star Conference. In the summer after his freshman year Carpenter remained on top, winning the Southern Amateur and qualifying for the U.S. Amateur.
“I played in some big tournaments this summer and I definitely had some success,” Carpenter said. “Playing well in those tournaments definitely helped my confidence.”
The Wildcats are ranked in the top 10 in two separate national polls. The latest poll, published by Golfstat, puts the ‘Cats in fifth place behind Chico State, Western Washington, North Alabama and Lynn University. The Wildcats are ranked 10th in the Division II Coaches’ Poll, but should move up after placing fourth in the NCAA Division II Championship Preview Tournament.
Tyler Sheppard, a junior, said while all of last year’s players have returned again, the team has certainly matured.
“We had a good team last year, and since everyone has improved on their game that much since last year it’s making a difference this year,” Sheppard said. “We need to be on top of our game and don’t get ahead of ourselves, but things definitely look positive.”
Last season the Wildcats finished seventh in the Lone Star Conference Championship. Head coach Mike Campbell, who has led ACU’s golf team for the past six seasons helped the Wildcats win their first title since 1995, said he hopes to make this season something special.
The Wildcats will play in the Bruce Williams Memorial next Monday and Tuesday at the Dominion Country Club in San Antonio.