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2016 SLIAC Golf Tournament Preview

2016 SLIAC Golf Tournament Preview

For the second consecutive year the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Golf Tournament will be held at Aberdeen Golf Club in Eureka, Mo. Spalding University is the defending champion. The rest of the field consists of Blackburn College, Eureka College, Fontbonne University, Iowa Wesleyan University, MacMurray College, Webster University, and Westminster College.

Spalding University captured last year's SLIAC title with a team score of 916, finishing 22 strokes better than their closest competitor thanks to a consistent three rounds which saw them stay within four shots of each round including a tournament low of 303 on the final day. This year's Golden Eagles team will be led once again by Hunter Lenz and Jonathon Gandia, who finished 1-2 in individual finishes at last year's tournament. Lenz has played in two events this year and holds a 77.8 stroke average with a season low round of 73. Lenz will edged out his teammate Grandia for the SLIAC Individual Championship at last year's tournament, winning by two strokes. This year Gandia is averaging 74.8 strokes per round and tallied a low round of 72. Michael Vick also returns to the tournament field after placing fourth last year.

Webster University, who has won three of the last five tournaments, is fresh off a first-place finish in the Gorlok Invitational which was held on the same course at Aberdeen last week. The Gorloks are shooting a 306.6 as a team in their five events this spring with Tyler Thorman leading the charge. Thorman has a second place (2014) and a third place (2015) finish at the tournament and comes into the tournament holding a 75.6 stroke average this season. Jon Hughes has a team low 75.3 stroke average and will look to improve on his top 15 finish at last year's tournament.

Blackburn College comes in with a team average of 345.5 and two top 10 tournament finishes this spring. The Beavers are led by Kyle Kessinger with a stroke average of 82.8; to go with one top five finish and a low round of 78. Tyler Soli is second on the team with an 85.0 average. The Beavers placed sixth at last year's tournament. The Eureka College contingency will be headed up by Tyler Nelson and Brody Hibbard. Nelson is averaging 93.0 strokes per round while Hibbard has a team low 91.5 strokes per round this spring. The Red Devils finished eighth in last year's field.

The Griffins finished fourth in last year's tournament but are a young team this spring with just two upperclassman. Bryan Easton has had a strong spring for Fontbonne with an average of 82.0 including a low round of 79. Will Pruden shot a team best round of 76 this spring and comes in with an 82.2 stroke average.

Iowa Wesleyan University will be looking to make some noise after finishing third last spring and returning two top 15 finishers as well as the 2014 Newcomer of the Year Michael Neff. Neff leads the team with a 78.3 average this spring with three top 20 finishes. Tanner Travis placed 10th last year and holds a 82.8 average while Patrick Zielinski finished 14th and holds an 80.8 average. The Tigers will look to be more consistent as they shot a team score of 310 in round two last year but finished above 324 in the other two rounds.

MacMurray College is coming off a fifth place finish from last year, a tournament in which they lowered their round score each round as the tournament went on. The Highlanders' Tarryn Link returns after a ninth place finish and is poised for another strong outing as he carries a 79.4 average into the tournament. Cory Copper is averaging 84.6 strokes per round and Zach Koonce is shooting an 81.5 per round this spring.

Westminster College placed seventh at last year's tournament and comes in with a team average of 348.7 per round this spring. The Blue Jays are led by Brandon Smith with an average of 85.0 this spring and one top 20 finish. Connor Muenks is averaging 88.7 strokes per round.

The 2016 SLIAC Golf Tournament will tee off on Monday morning at 8 a.m. at Aberdeen Golf Club in Eureka, Mo. Teams will play two rounds on Monday, April 18 with the second round beginning at approximately 1 p.m. The third and final round will tee off at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19. Live Scoring will take place and can be found HERE


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