The Mercer men’s golf team rebounded from a disappointing showing at the Linger Longer Invitational, an event that they co-hosted with Kennesaw State University at Great Waters Golf Course in Eatonton, with a stellar performance at the Irish Creek Invitational at Irish Creek Golf Course in Kannapolis, N.C.
The Bears finished in third place overall, with a final shot total of 839 strokes. The boys from Macon were only four shots back from No.17 Duke and were six strokes ahead of the fourth place team, UNC Charlotte 49ers.
Mercer was paced by sophomore James Beale, who had just come off of a great individual finish at the Linger Longer Invitational, finishing five under par, ending the tournament in a tie for fourth place. His performance at the Linger Longer garnered him the Atlantic Sun Golfer of the Week award. Beale’s success would not end in Eatonton, however, and as he would fire rounds of 68, 68 and 64, ending the tournament as the overall winner, ending 13 under par for the tournament.
“(James) has really come into his own in the last month,” said Head Coach Steve Bradley. “From his first top 10 finish at Florida State, to his first top five finish at Linger Longer, to winning his first tournament at Irish Creek. He’s always had the talent, but now he’s starting to believe in himself and his confidence is through the roof.”
The victory gave Beale a second-straight Atlantic Sun Golfer of the Week award, becoming the first Bear to earn the honor in back-to-back weeks and only the second Atlantic Sun player to do so this season.
The rest of the orange and black squad would likewise perform well, with senior Josh Cone finishing in a tie for 17th place. Cone shot rounds of 69, 72, 72, which gave him an even par through the three rounds. “Overall as a team we played pretty good,” said Cone. “We played with two really good golf teams in Kent State and Duke and we felt like we held our own. We’ve gained a lot of momentum and feel really good about our chances heading into conference.”
Freshman Trey Rule had the third best team finish, with rounds of 75, 67 and 72. Rule finished one over par. His score put him in a four-way tie for 12th place. Sophomore Hans Reimers shot rounds of 73, 74 and 70, to finish plus-four and in a six-way tie for 29th place. Reimers had the fourth best finish for Mercer.
Junior Thomas Holmes ended with his best round of the tournament (72), having shot rounds of 76 and 73 on the first day of competition. Holmes finished in a four-way tie for 43rd place and rounded out the Bears’ scorecard.
Mercer is preparing for the Atlantic Sun Championship, which takes place from April 16-18 at The Legends at Chateau Elan in Braselton. “I’m proud of all the hard work the team has put in this season,” said Bradley. “We got better and that was our main goal. The success that we have had is going to be a good springboard into the future. We’re only going to get better and that’s really exciting from a coaching perspective.”