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ISSUE 118 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/1/2004

Golf hits home links, earns top ten finish behind Knights

By Joel Stjernholm
Sports Editor

Friday, October 1, 2004

Playing their only match in Northfield this season, the St. Olaf mens golf team earned an eighth place finish at the Carleton Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.

The men played well, finishing only three shots behind cross-river rival Carleton, and 27 shots behind tournament champion Gustavus.

Pat Gilles 05, also a member of the St. Olaf mens hockey team, led the Ole golfers, shooting a 79 on Saturday followed by an 80 on Sunday for a respectable 13th place individual finish. Gilles finished only 10 strokes off tournament champions Collin Cody of Gustavus and Mitch Olinger of St. John's.

Oles Bryan Hapka 05 and Brian Delaitsch 07 also scored well, shooting combined scores of 161 and 163 respectively to secure 20th and 28th place honors.

Kjell Dybdahl 08 and Drew Hoffman 07 rounded out the scoring for the Ole crew, finishing 41 and 50th.

The St. Olaf men have looked to both talented younger golfers and talented upper-classmen to compose this seasons tournament roster. The team may rely on younger talent to a greater extent than some of their competitors, but the Ole men have played well against much more experienced squads thus far this season.

Tournament play was interrupted by one frightening moment, when St. Olaf hockey player Keith Townsend 05, at the tournament to watch friend and teammate Gilles, was struck in the head by a tee shot. He was unconscious in the fairway for a brief moment before recovering.

He just fell to the ground like he had been shot, Gilles said.

Townsend needed no medical assistance.

Relieved that his fan and good friend wasnt injured, Gilles recalled the humor of the situation.

I tried not to laugh, but it looked really funny, Gilles said. He just hit the ground.

The teams eighth place finish is indicative of steady mid-season improvement experienced by the team.

Finishing 12th at the St. Johns Invitational and 10th at the Edgewood Classic, the Oles have steadily improved their game relative to key competitors as the season has progressed.

Despite marked improvement, the Oles are still frustrated with their play. Accustomed to defeating many of the opponents that have recently bested them, the team has been reflecting on their performance this season, looking to work out kinks as the season nears its end. Inconsistent play has frustrated the usually poised and predictable St. Olaf men.

Its been a little rough so far. Golf is one of those sports where you can go out and shoot a great game on one day, and play terribly the next, Drew Hoffman 07 said. My long game has been spectacular, but my short game has been off early this season. Im not worried. My game will be on by the time we play in the conference tournament. Its just frustrating.

Collegiate golfers play a relatively short season; having played only three official tournaments thus far, the Ole men have only one more tournament  the Twin Cities Classic  before they compete in the MIAC Championships.

St. Olaf golfers hope to hit their stride in the last two competitions of the season.

The Conference match is the only one that really matters, Gilles said. We expect to be on our best game for that tournament.

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