The GW golf team doubled its pleasure at the Don Mershon Classic Monday, winning its first tournament since 1999, while freshman Brian Carroll won the first individual title of his career. Carroll’s win came just one week after teammate Andrew Gallo, also a freshman, won the Temple Invitational.
The winning total of 606 for the two-day, two-round tournament tied GW’s worst score this season, as tough conditions at the Indian Valley Country Club in Telford, Pa. resulted in high scores across the board. But with winds howling, temperatures in the 50s, and a course that had been soaked by rain on Saturday, that 606 was good for a nine-shot victory over tournament host Lehigh.
The Colonials combined for a 298 on Sunday, putting them just two shots above Lehigh and 3 shots ahead of Colgate. They distanced themselves from the rest of the field on Monday, though, shooting a 308, while Lehigh and Colgate both shot 315. This was GW’s first tournament victory since the St. Bonaventure-Keenan Classic on Oct. 4, 1999.
With the win, Carroll became the fifth GW golfer to take home an individual title in the last nine years, joining Gallo, Thomas Blankvoort (April 2001, April 2002), Brian Derdenger (October 2000) and Ryan Day (October 2000).
After finishing Sunday’s first round with a two-under-par 70 to tie for the lead with Drexel’s Jeff Michner, Carroll said he felt confident he could finish the job.
“I was hitting the ball great,” he said. “I had made six birdies (in the first round), and the course was really set up for me.”
As conditions worsened in the second round, Carroll struggled a bit down the stretch, double bogeying the 15th hole and bogeying 16. Unsure of how his play would affect the individual standings, Carroll said he was more worried about hurting the team’s chances of winning.
But after a pep talk from head coach Scott Allen, Carroll said he calmed down,
and it showed.
After a 50-foot two-putt to par the 17th hole, Carroll found himself in the trees on 18. Allen said the rookie could have tried a difficult shot over a creek, but Carroll said he never really considered the option. Instead, he pitched out to the fairway, leaving himself 100 yards to the green.
From there, Carroll stuck a wedge to within three feet and tapped in for a second round score of 77. That up-and-down from 100 yards turned out to be the deciding margin, as Michner shot a 78 to finish second.
Carroll said the team victory was more important than his own and that he would have blamed himself if the team lost, even if he won.
“If we would have lost by one or two strokes,” Carroll said. “I would have been upset that I had pretty much blown it for the team by not making par on the last four holes.”
Senior Michael Ball played well behind Carroll, shooting two rounds of 75 to finish fourth place overall. GW head coach Allen said he was proud of Ball, who had been struggling this fall.
“He could have easily folded up and decided this wasn’t going to be his year,” Allen said. “He’s a perfectionist, and he was getting frustrated with his poor play this year, but he stayed very patient.”
The winning lineup was rounded out by three freshmen. Gallo shot 153 to place seventh overall and Dan Mirabella shot 156 to tie for 15th place in only his second career tournament.
Allen said Mirabella tends to get the ball high in the air, so the wind hurt him at times, but considering his inexperience, Allen said he was pleased with the rookie’s play.
Freshman Federico Guzman struggled with his driver throughout the tournament and shot an 80-83 for his first poor showing of the year.
The Colonials’ next tournament is the Old Dominion-Seascape Invite Oct. 28-29 in Kitty Hawk, N.C.