The ACU golf team finished 14th in the 15-team field in the Ram Masters Invitation in Fort Collins, Colorado, Tuesday. Corbin Renner, senior from Little Rock, Arkansas, tied for 11th individually.
The narrow and winding course at Colorado State was a drastic difference from the wide-open fairways of Abilene’s Diamondback Golf Club. The Wildcats struggled early and never caught up.
“The course was much more difficult,” said Clarke Hudgins, freshman from Amarillo. “The greens were firmer, and the course was more demanding.”
After 36 holes on Monday, the team found themselves already 61 strokes over par. No ‘Cat shot under 80 on the first 18 holes except Renner. His first round was highlighted by two birdies but ended with 3 bogeys. Still, his 75 and 72 on day one left him in a spot to be competitive on day two.
He did just that shooting one under par. That 69 was tied for the second best round of the tournament and propelled him into the top 15.
“The best part of my game was really just hitting it well enough that last day to have opportunities to make good scores,” Renner said.
The team saw improvement on the final round of 18, the biggest of which came from Dillon Vaughn, junior transfer from Joshua.
Vaughn, who led the team in the first tournament, had a tough time adjusting to the new conditions Monday. He shot an 82 and a 79 on the first 36 holes, but came back Tuesday and fired a 73.
Robert Johnson, sophomore Helensburgh, Scotland, Kaden Walters, senior from Fort Worth, and Hudgins failed to get below the 77 mark.
“The most difficult part was really the entire golf course,” Renner said. “It was demanding of the tee, and the rough was quite long. Also, the greens were very small and firm.”
Not only did the ‘Cats face a hard course, but also some stiff competition.
The tournament’s host, Colorado State, stole first place from Kansas University on the last 18 holes. Denver, Nevada and McNeese State, a Southland team, rounded out the top five.
Drew McCullough, from Wyoming, won by a single stroke over Kansas’ Chase Hanna and Nevada’s Corey Eddings. Renner ended six strokes back McCullough.
Despite the disappointing outcome, the ‘Cats gained valuable experience playing in the high altitude. Playing at a place as tough as Fort Collins will no doubt pay off at later tournaments.