The 2008-09 Missouri Valley Golf season began for several schools last week as seven men's teams and Evansville's women's team were in action over the weekend. This week's Missouri Valley Golfers of the Week are Vandi Gooch of Evansville and Dustin Garza of Wichita State.
Dustin Garza concluded the Aldila Scenic City Invitational with a round of 67, tying his personal best score and leading the Shockers to a third place team finish at the 16 team event, which concluded Tuesday at the Council Fire Golf Club in Chattanooga. Garza's 67 propelled him to a second-placed tie in the event with a final tally of 205 (69-69-67). Southeast Louisiana's Matt Carvell won medalist honors with a tournament record score of 198 (60-70-68). As a team, Wichita State finished third with a team score of 851 (280-287-284). The Shockers finished two three strokes ahead of Southern Mississippi, and 18 strokes behind Augusta State. Tennessee-Chattanooga won the event, setting a new tournament record score of 819.
Southern Illinois' Blake Driskell tied for sixth place in the 53-golfer field with a 2-over-par 218 at the Wasioto Winds Fall Kick-off Classic. The Cape Girardeau, Mo., native stormed out of the gates in the opening round with a career-best 4-under-par 68, along with a 2-over 74 to lead the field after 36 holes. Driskell finished the tournament on Tuesday with a 4-over 76 to claim his fourth top 10 finish of his career. His effort helped lead to the Salukis' first team victory since taking the team medalist at the John Dallio Memorial on September 28, 2004. Driskell picked up right where he left off at the end of last season after finishing tied for ninth at the 2008 State Farm MVC Championship in April.
Four Valley schools competed in the Fairway Club Invitational. Illinois State and Missouri State tied for 5th place in the 12-team field, while Drake was ninth and Creighton, 12th. The top league finisher in the event was MSU's Jay McBride. McBride finished tied for fourth in a field of 69 individual players. The tournament was played at the par-72, 7,158-yard ArborLinks Golf Course and was held Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 8-9.
Following a long rain delay on Monday, the tournament was shortened to 36 holes, 18 played Monday afternoon, and the final round on Tuesday morning. McBride finished only four strokes off the tournament’s individual medalist Shane Pearce from Texas Pan American who shot a 36-hole total of 139 (68-71). Other top finishers in the league included Illinois State's Tommy Bliefnick (75-72 for 8th place), while four league players tied for 18th with a two-round score 149 [Joe Emerich and Will Cullen of Illinois State; Jordan McLaurin of Missouri State; and Drake's Ryan Smith.] Creighton's top finisher was Michael McDonnell. He carded a two-round 150.
UNI's Troy Hoffman tied for 34th place at the 40th Annual Falcon Invitational, hosted the by the Air Force Academy. The tournament was played on the Blue Course (par 72) of the Eisenhower Golf Club. Hoffman shot 72-74-75--221 to tie for 34th place. The Panthers shot 298-294-322--914 and placed 15th.
It was a lighter week across the board in Valley women's golf, as only Evansville competed last weekend. UE's Vandi Gooch, a senior, shot 72 and 78 to finish at 6-over-par 150 at the Draper Intercollegiate, played at Draper Valley Golf Club (5,910 yards) in Draper, Va. Gooch finished 11th in the field of 85 golfers. UE was 8th out of 14 in the team standings. Freshman Lauren Ellerman (73-78=151) was one stroke behind Gooch, and finished 15th overall in her collegiate debut.