The TU men’s golf team parlayed three rounds that tallied an 868 score into the Sun Conference title on Tuesday – the first conference championship in the 13-year history of the program.
NAIA No. 24 Thomas ousted 11 teams during the three-day event at Savannah Quarters Country Club in Pooler, Ga. with scores of 292, 286 and 290 in each round.
Sophomore Alex Kitsos led the Night Hawks to their first round lead with a hole-in-one on No. 12 using a five-iron to sink the 200-yard shot.
Senior Sam Jackson, the low-medalist of the tournament with 211 strokes, followed with seven birdies through ten holes in round two that gave Thomas a comfortable cushion heading into the final day, where the Night Hawks secured the title.
“Having the lead after the first round helped us tremendously,” TU coach Peter Ireland said. “We knew that the early lead meant that teams were not only going to be chasing us, but also that we could still play better [because] we left a lot of shots out there.”
Ireland also said that Savannah Quarters is quite comparable to its home course at Kinderlou Forest, citing its “big fairways and big greens that can be unforgiving.”
What ultimately boosted Thomas, Ireland said, was its resounding resiliency to “play like a team for the first time all year.”
The coach cited the leadership of Jackson, Stone Cowie and James Fletcher, who were all among the top ten individual finalists.
“They set the tone for our entire program,” Ireland said. “We said all year long that we had the top three golfers in our conference and in the country, but they put that on display [in the conference tournament.
“It’s not just the fact that they played well, because they have all year. What’s really changed is that they seem to pick up the slack of our four and five guys and lifted them to their potential.”