The Wichita State University men’s golf team captured its sixth-straight Missouri Valley Conference Championship with a record-setting 32-stroke victory at Dalhousie Country Club. Rafael Becker took the individual title with a 6-under 210 (74-68-68), four strokes ahead of teammate Hunter Sparks.
The Shockers’ margin of victory was easily the largest since the conference tournament went to a 54-hole format in 1990. Tulsa’s 26-stroke victory in a rain-shorted tournament in 1995 was the previous high. The Shockers carded a 3-under 858 to cruise past second place Illinois State (890) and third place Southern Illinois (896) to record the 18th Valley Championship in school history.
Tyler Gann, Wichita State
Brandon Cauldwell, Southern Illinois
Wils Hawn, Illinois State
Joey Johnson, Missouri State
Quinn Vilneff, Evansville
Calvin Pearson, Wichita State
Devin Leland, Drake
Louis Cohen Boyer, Wichita State
Hunter Sparks, Wichita State
Rafael Becker, Wichita State
Elite 18 Award: Quinn Vilneff, Evansville (Top GPA in top-18 golfers)
Newcomer of the Year: Joey Johnson, Missouri State
Golfer of the Year: Hunter Sparks, Wichita State
Coach of the Year: Grier Jones, Wichita State
Weather conditions were ideal at the par-72, 7,175-yard course, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 70’s with sunny skies and a breeze at 5-10 mph.
Becker, the 2012 MVC Golfer of the Year, took charge with three-straight birdies on holes 7-9. He was 2-over in the first round but followed with a 4-under 68 in the second round on Monday to move into position to take over the top spot. He pulled ahead of sophomore teammate Louis Cohen Boyer when the younger Shocker bogeyed Hole 9.
Boyer carded a 3-under 69 in the opening round and followed with an even-par effort in the second round to own the lead entering Tuesday’s competition. He tied for seventh at last year’s MVC Championship and settled for a third place tie this year with a 1-over 217 (69-72-76).
Hunter Sparks also gave chase at the title and before taking second place. Sparks, last year’s medalist, became Becker’s primary challenger and was the only other player in the field to score under par for the tournament. He checked in at 1-under on Tuesday to take sole possession of second place with a 2-under 214 (72-71-71).
Wichita State advances to the NCAA Tournament for 20th time in school history, including the 11th time since 1999. The Shockers will be looking to advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2004. The NCAA Selection Show will be held Monday, May 6th at 9 p.m. and will be carried live on NCAA.com.
COURSE INFORMATION -- Dalhousie is an outstanding par-72 course designed by the Nicklaus Group. The course sits on land originally settled in 1798 by Scottish immigrant Rebecca Ramsey, sister of the The Earl of Dalhousie, and skirts private land housing an antebellum mansion that emulates Scotland's famous Dalhousie Castle. The character of the 7,389 yard core golf layout varies from undulating terrain to old growth forests to spectacular water holes, while gnarly-edged bunkers, imaginative green complexes, immaculate Zoysia fairways and large, rectangular bentgrass tee boxes add dimension and challenge. A true masterpiece designed to stand the test of time, The Dalhousie Golf Club is undoubtedly one of the best courses in the Midwest.