Courtesy of Ohio State athletic department
The Ohio State men’s golf team wrapped up the Puerto Rico Classic with a 13th place finish out of 15 teams, but coach Donnie Darr said the score did not reflect the team’s overall performance.
After starting off the tournament shooting a 16-over score of 304 in Sunday’s first round at the Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, the Buckeyes improved their score each of the next two rounds, shooting a 294 and 290, respectively.
Overall, the 24-over score of 888 “didn’t really give a true indication of how well we played,” Darr said.
“It’s just the process, and the guys are working hard. They’re doing the right things and the more reps we get in this spring, I think the better we’re gonna play,” Darr said. “I’m not at all surprised that we improved each day.”
Leading the way for the young OSU team was freshmen Max Rosenthal, who compiled a score of 4-over 220 for the tournament. He had the team’s low round for the first two rounds with a 74 and 70, respectively, and shot 76 in the final round to finish T-36 overall for the tournament.
Rosenthal said his ball striking was solid each round, but his short game and chipping from 40-60 yards from the hole wasn’t working too well. He said not being able to practice the shots within 60 yards on a regular basis is tough because of the amount of touch needed for each.
Freshman Michael Bernard, who led the Buckeyes in the final round, finished T-39 overall. Bernard, like most of the rest of the team, improved his score each day with rounds of 77-74-70 for a 5-over score of 221.
“I played a lot of good golf this week, but there’s just a few mistakes that I need to clean up. But it’s early in the season,” Bernard said.
Bernard had four birdies in a five-hole stretch from numbers 7 through 11 in the final round. He also started off 5-under through his first 10 holes in Sunday’s first round, but shot 10-over in the final eight holes for a 77.
The main problem facing OSU throughout the week was the “visually intimidating” golf course itself, the River Course, Darr said. The “typical island-resort type golf course,” Darr said, featured water hazards on nearly every hole.
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“At times, we let some of the visual stuff bother us, a lot of loose shots and it turned into a lot of balls in the water that we normally wouldn’t hit if we were in midseason form,” Darr said. “Visually, it’s very difficult and very demanding that you stay focused and stay committed to your targets, and that’s ultimately just where we struggled.”
On the other hand, a good indication of the team’s performance was the number of birdies throughout the week. OSU collected 50 birdies during the three days.
“We made a lot of birdies, and making birdies is difficult when you haven’t been practicing outdoors and you don’t have the confidence that you’re used to having because you’ve got a lot of reps in,” Darr said. “So for us to be able to make as many birdies as we made down there, I thought that was a great sign.”
Sophomores Boo Timko and Grant Weaver also improved their scores each day. Timko shot 76-74-73 to finish T-47, and Weaver shot 79-76-71 to finish T-55.
Alabama took home the title, finishing with a 33-under 831. Northwestern led the four Big Ten Conference teams with a sixth-place finish at 1-under 863.
OSU will return to action for the Seminole Intercollegiate March 15-17 at the Southwood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla.