ORONO – They host it. They play in it… They OWN it.
The Husson College Eagles cruised to a commanding lead on the first day of the Husson Invitational Tournament and played so well on the second day, the only unanswered question was which golfer would be the medalist.
There was, however, no question what team jersey the tournament’s top golfer would be wearing after the final-round scores were posted.
Husson ran away from the rest of the nine-team field on a bright and balmy day at Penobscot Valley Country Club and won the title by a whopping 38 strokes over runner-up Tufts University of Medford, Mass. Husson teammates Lance Libby and Jason Harvey then played a sudden-death playoff which ended with Libby claiming medalist honors with a par on the first hole against Harvey’s bogey.
The Eagles were the epitome of consistency as they carded a team score of 295 Sunday and 296 Monday for an overall score of 591.
“They did a good job shooting under 600, but we wanted to be good guests and not come here and beat them the first time, so I held back a couple guys,” Tufts coach Bob Sheldon joked. “Seriously, I know it’s their home course, but 600 is a benchmark for college teams because that’s averaging 75 a player and they were under that, which is very good golf.”
Saint Joseph’s College of Standish was third at 639. Bowdoin College of Brunswick placed fourth (642) followed by the University of Southern Maine of Gorham (650), University of Maine-Farmington (665), Thomas College of Waterville (670), Bates College of Lewiston (674) and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine (707).
After Bucksport’s Harvey led the way with a 1-under par 71 and Oakland’s Libby carded a 74 Sunday, the senior duo switched places Monday.
“I just slowed my swing down. I was too quick yesterday. Coming down on my swing, I’d jerk it and hit over the ball,” Libby explained. “Today I just kept my head down and kept it on the fairway because if you’re in the rough, you’re in so much trouble. I also made a lot of putts.”
What a difference a day makes.
“I made more putts yesterday,” Harvey said. “I think I had five or six bogeys today and I think I had two yesterday.”
There wasn’t much of a wide gulf between the lowest and highest scores turned in by the Eagles. Adam Duplisea, a sophomore from Hermon, shot a 77 Sunday and a 73 Monday for a 150 overall, freshman and Presque Isle native Chris Coffin went 73 and 78 for 151, and sophomore Brian St. Louis of Argyle had a 161 (79 and 82).
“I think we’re playing our best golf as we go into some very important matches with our conference championship next weekend and the New Englands the next week,” said Bruce MacGregor, now in his 15th season as Husson’s coach.
Husson has only six golfers on the squad, but the quality of their roster more than offsets the lack of quantity as all six have played in at least one of Husson’s six tournament victories this year. Bryan Johnson, a sophomore from Hampden, helped Husson win the USM Tournament last week with a 157 and had a hole-in-one to boot, but didn’t play this week.
“We have six very good golfers and if you don’t shoot in the 70’s in a match, you have to play off to see if you can play the next team match,” MacGregor explained. “If all five shoot in the 70’s, the one with the highest score still has to play off, so the competition is very high and significant for us.”
MacGregor said the system couldn’t work out better as all six have logged significant playing time and it sorts out the “guys who are playing their best golf at the time.”
“It makes you better when your team does well and it shows a lot in our practices with the competition we have among us,” said Harvey, a senior walk-on who instantly strengthened Husson’s already solid lineup.
“My baseball eligibility ran out and I had the fall season off,” Harvey said. “Since I’ve always played golf and love it, I decided to try out.”