Eric Andrews | Echo
The Taylor men's golf team earned a convincing victory at the TPC Deere Run Invitational in Silvis, Illinois, last weekend. The victory was the Trojans' first of the spring season.
The No. 13 Trojans bested 22 other teams by recording a team score of 576, 10 strokes better than second-place finisher No. 10 Northwestern Ohio.
Taylor was led by junior Alec Dutkowski, who claimed a share in the individual tournament championship with Iowa Western Community College's Tom Westenberger by shooting a two-day total of 139. The victory was Dutkowski's third of the year and sixth of his collegiate career.
Dutkowski's performance earned him the NAIA Golfer of the Week honor as well as his second consecutive Crossroads League Golfer of the Week honor.
Head coach Cam Andry and senior Trey Turner both praised Dutkowski's ability to maintain mental toughness and focus while playing, despite any external influences such as weather. Dutkowski recognized this ability and established it as a strength of the rest of the team as well.
"We (are) able to bear down and accept whatever the conditions are, day in, day out," Dutkowski said. "We love to compete, so if it's snowing or if it's sunny, we're going to go out and compete our hardest and see where that puts us on the leaderboard."
Dutkowski was not the only Trojan to perform well, despite winds gusting as high as 40 miles per hour, according to Andry.
Senior Mitch Lamping earned a share of fourth place in the tournament by shooting 143, while Turner turned in a 145, good for a share of 12th place. Junior Jeremy Ray and senior Nick Waskom rounded out the Trojans' scorecard by recording scores of 149 and 152, respectively.
"The first day, I played really (well)," Turner said. "I shot 68, but I felt like it could have been better. . . . The second day, I hit the ball really well. I hit 13 greens, which is really good in that wind."
The Trojans have seen steady improvement throughout their season. They began the spring schedule by finishing fourth at the San Antonio Shootout before improving to second place at the Purgatory Intercollegiate.
The victory at the TPC Deere Run Invitational gives the team the confidence they need to continue improving as they head into the homestretch of the season.
Andry noted the team's experience will serve them well as they advance deeper into the season. The veteran golfers will have familiarity with some of the courses they will be playing on, including the courses hosting the Crossroads League Championship and the NAIA National Championships.
"These guys know what they need to do," Andry said. "I'm just like, 'What color Gatorade do you guys want?'"
Taylor returns to action Monday, April 9, competing in the Redhawk Spring Invitational in Athens, Alabama.
"Photographs provided by Cam Andry"