OPELIKA, Ala. (3/6/17) – Freshman Zan Luka Stirn collected a runner-up finish to lead the Arkansas State men’s golf team at the Tiger Invitational, which concluded Monday with the Red Wolves in eighth place among 19 teams after shooting a 54-hole 870.
Stirn shot a combined 206, the lowest three-round score by an A-State player this season, and finished just three strokes behind tournament-champion Thomas Eldridge of UNC Wilmington. His total included a season-best 66 for the opening 18 holes followed by a 68 and 72 for the second and third rounds, respectively.
“This is the strongest field we’ve competed against, during my tenure here for sure,” said second-year A-State head coach Mike Hagen. “I thought Zan Luka played three good rounds of golf and really had an all-around great tournament, so I was excited to see him have a strong finish. He will only continue to get better, but this shows the kind of performance he is capable of putting together.”
The Red Wolves opened play Sunday with a first-round 287 that put them in a tie for fourth place. They posted a second-round 290 to enter today’s final round in fourth place and ahead of teams such as No. 23 Missouri, but fell to eighth after recording a 293.
“We struggled to find a few shots that would’ve really helped us over the three rounds,” Hagen said. We have to get off to a better start, which we did in the second round, but it still wasn’t quick enough for where we were on the course. We had a tough start today and were able to fight our way back some, but we couldn’t finish where we wanted.”
A-State finished ahead of fellow Sun Belt Conference member South Alabama and schools such as Mississippi State, Minnesota, Louisville, West Virginia, Kansas State and Maryland. The squad was only one stroke behind Charlotte and UNCW, which tied for sixth place, and within three strokes of fourth-place Kennesaw State.
Host-school Auburn claimed the tournament title with an 851, while Troy finished runner-up with an 856 and Missouri third with an 857.
“This was a good learning experience for our guys,” continued Hagen. “This field, top to bottom, is very tough, and these are teams that will be competing for conference championships. We will keep testing ourselves against good competition, and the more we put ourselves in these-type situations, the better we’ll continue to react each time out.”
Also competing for the Red Wolves, Trent Jones shot a 222 (74-77-71) to tie for 47th place, while Tanner Napier (74-75-77) and Andrew Huseman (73-72-81) both shot a 226 to tie for 68th. Joel Wendin ended the tourney tied for 78th with a 228 (80-75-73).
Arkansas State returns to action March 14-16 at the ORU Spring Break Invitational in Dallas.
ARKANSAS STATE RESULTS
Place, Name (RD 1-RD 2-RD 3--TOTAL)
8, Arkansas State (287-290-293—870)
2, Zan Luka Stirn (66-68-72—206)
T47, Trent Jones (74-77-71—222)
T68, Tanner Napier (74-75-77—226)
T68, Andrew Huseman (73-72-81—226)
T78, Joel Wendin (80-75-73—228)