Lehigh senior golfer Ryan Kelly putts during practice on Sept. 19th, 2019, at the Steel Club. Kelly shot a par 72 on Sept. 30, 2019, during the UConn Invitational at GreatHorse. (Adele Hancock/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s golf redeems sub-par opening play

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The Lehigh men’s golf team placed 11th overall out of 14 teams at the UConn Invitational at GreatHorse after struggling in the first round of play. 

On Sept. 29 — the first day of the tournament — the Mountain Hawks shot a 317, resulting in a 13th place standing out of the 14 teams. The two seniors on the team, Ryan Kelly and Owen Quinn, led the way for Lehigh as the veteran players and scored a 78 and 79, respectively. They were closely followed by freshmen David Hurly and Sam Barton, who both scored an 80.

Hurly said one of the obstacles derailing the team’s success in the first round was the course’s difficult conditions. He said it took the team the entire first round to adapt to the toughness of the course before the golfers were able to start playing a better game. 

Despite the rough start, the Mountain Hawks recovered on the second day. Shooting a 295, the team achieved a 22-stroke improvement from its score on the first day. Kelly and Hurly both shot an even par (72), assisting Lehigh to an 11th place finish upon completion of the second day, Sept. 30. 

Hurly said Lehigh’s comeback on the second day was especially memorable for him because he could immediately recognize the team’s shift in energy and mentality. 

“We stopped thinking about the difficulty and just played the game,” he said.

The third day of golf, Oct. 1, proved more difficult for the team, as the Mountain Hawks shot a 305. Quinn finished the tournament with an impressive round, shooting a 69 and completing five birdies in a row.

“(I’ve) never done (this) in play,” Quinn said of his accomplishment.

Coach Henry D’Alberto said he enjoyed accompanying Quinn in the last round and watching him complete the five birdies. The team remained in 11th place at the culmination of the tournament. 

As the team looks ahead to the rest of the season, D’Alberto said improving the consistency is key. D’Alberto added the team is likely to become more consistent as the younger players become more familiar and comfortable with the heightened level of college play. 

Quinn said the work they put in now — to acquire more experience and improve consistency — will translate into spring season competitions. 

D’Alberto also said a key component to the team’s improvement is largely associated with the mental toughness of his players. He said the mental side of golf is just as difficult to master as the physical side, and the golfers need to work on this as much as they do their swings or putts. 

“They just have to learn to focus on one shot at a time,” he said.

The Mountain Hawks will look to improve play as the team travels to Gladstone, New Jersey, for its next competition against rival Lafayette on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

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