Bright spots have been hard to come by in 2011 for the McMaster men’s golf team.
With exactly zero team medals and only a few individual top-10s to show for in 2011, a season that began with hope was quickly becoming a struggle.
For fourth-year senior Mark Young, one day at his team’s home tournament changed that all.
Young shot a two-under par 68 to win the McMaster Invitational on Oct. 13, his first victory and the first win by a McMaster player in two years. His performance led the squad to a team-best 294 on the day and a silver medal, just one shot behind the winners from Guelph.
“It was nice to end up with some hardware for a change. We’ve been working hard all year to get results and they finally showed up,” said Young, who won by two shots over Guelph’s Eric Pattenaude and Chris Hemmerich and Toronto’s Richard Persaud.
Young hit all 18 greens in regulation on the day and could have walked even further away from the field if not for a sloppy four-putt on the par-3 7th hole.
“I was able to manage my nerves well and make some putts. I’ve never been in a position like that for Mac before. It felt great to play like I did down the stretch,” said Young, who birdied his second-last hole of the day
“[The four-putt] was hard to get over, but I composed myself well enough to finish one-under on my last seven holes. I’m hitting it as well as I ever have.”
It was far and away the highlight of what’s been a trying season for the Marauders. With just one team medal on the year, coach Alf Callowhill said the team would have hoped for some better results.
“We haven’t putted well in most of our tournaments. If we’d made a few more putts here and there we could have done some damage,” said the fourth-year coach.
The opportunity to do that damage presented itself this week at the OUA Championships at Cataraqui Golf and Country Club in Kingston.
Unfortunately for Mac, the putts didn’t seem to want to fall, and the Marauders finished in seventh place, 22 shots behind the victorious Waterloo Warriors.
Brutal winds of 45 km/h and up as well as biting cold – expected conditions for Ontario golf in October – made conditions tough for the whole field.
“The conditions were the real story. The wind made pretty much any score in the 70s respectable,” said Young. “If you weren’t careful, you could run off a few bogeys or worse really quickly.”
Patrick Thornley and Greg Gabel led Mac with identical 75s on the first day, while rookies Jonathan Lam and Darryl McClure posted an 80 and an 81, respectively, giving Mac a total of 311. Young wasn’t able to carry over the momentum from the previous week, posting an uncharacteristic 84.
While the second day saw more benign conditions and lower scores, Mac wasn’t able to make up enough ground on the leaders. Gabel’s 74 – good enough to net a top-10 and a tournament All-Star spot – led Mac to second day of 305 and a total of 616.
“We were in a bit too much of a hole after the first day. Credit the guys for improving by six shots from day one. It just wasn’t enough this week,” said Callowhill.
Waterloo ran away with the team title, shooting a tournament-best 289 in the second round to win the Ruttan Cup. Fifth-year senior Garrett Rank shot a second-round 68 to win the Len Shore Trophy as OUA Champion for the second straight year.
“[Waterloo] really capitalized on the better conditions. We didn’t keep up with them the way we needed to,” said Young, who earned a spot on the season-long All-Star team.
On the women’s side, the Marauders struggled to an eighth-place finish at the Loyalist Country Club. Michaela DiMarcantonio led the Maroon and Grey with a two-day total of 169 to finish tied for ninth in the 32-player field.
Windsor’s Meaghan Pototschnik won the individual title at 159 while Waterloo ran away with the team title, finishing 18 shots ahead of second-place Western.