Follow the NCAA journey
As we go through the NCAA Division III men's golf championship experience over the next week, McDaniel SID Luke Stillson will post updates to give fans an inside look at the team's experience.
Saturday, May 7
9:30 p.m.: We are nine hours after departure from the McDaniel College Golf Course. An uneventful trip some nearly six and a half hours down 95 and 85 to Greensboro. Coach Moyer and I were leading the way in his vehicle while Coach Yeck brought the team (Paul Kovalcheck, Greg Bowman, KJ Mazurek, Logan Connaughton, Bryan Johnson). in the van behind us. Coach Moyer and I were a few minutes ahead of the team and took care of hotel check-in.
Once the rooms were taken care of, it was on to the Colonie Room for registration with the NCAA. There, we received the golf balls and money clips for the team as well as the packet of information that included the banquet tickets for Monday night.
We unloaded the van and took everything to the rooms (on the 17th floor of the fantastic Sheraton Four Seasons) only to meet back downstairs at 7:30.
The eight of us loaded into the van and headed to the course so we could plan how long it was going to take and make sure on the best route. It's only about 10 minutes and an easy drive.
On the way back, we stopped for dinner at Hooters and were back to the hotel around 9:00. Coach Moyer pulled everyone together to make sure everyone knew what we were wearing and what time to meet in the morning. The team will be in green shirts and tan shorts and will be in the lobby with their clubs at 6:55 a.m. The clubs will go into the van and we head to the buffet breakfast before departing for the start of the week with our first practice round.
Sunday, May 8
3:00 p.m.: Back at the Sheraton after the first practice round. The team was all seated together at breakfast in the hotel at 7 a.m. this morning. After a buffet of scrambled eggs, country potatos, bacon, fruit and cereal, the team was loaded into the van and headed to the Grandover Resort shortly after 7:30.
Just a quick 10-minute jaunt across town and the Green Terror pulled up somewhere in the middle of the 41 teams present for the championship. The five players found their way to their spot on the driving range designated by a large sign that read McDaniel.
While the guys did their thing, I caught up with an SID friend, who is on the NCAA men's golf committee, Kevin Beattie of RPI in the Albany area of upstate New York. We chatted for a while. I also was able to say hello to Donnie Wagner of the NCAA and a couple of other committee members while mingling throughout the range. Coach Moyer also made his rounds throughout the range, speaking with other coaches.
Around 8:45, everyone was told to load the carts and prepare to receive instructions before being led out to their hole. Our three carts traversed out to the 14th hole of the West Course, where our practice round began.
We made our way around the hilly but picturesque course. The course is relatively wooded but the fairways are mostly straight and the greens are large.
Eventually, as we were finishing up on the 10th hole, the boxed lunches made their way to where we were. We had caught the group in front of us (Milwaukee School of Engineering - one of our two playing partners for the first two rounds) and had not seen the team behind us (Carroll) all day so we took the opportunity for a 10- or 15-minute break to enjoy the sandwiches, chips, cookies and fruit.
By 1:00, everyone was properly nourished and teeing off on No. 11. With just three holes remaining, we were back to the clubhouse around 1:45. The team took the opportunity to hit a few more balls before we departed around 2:45 to come back to the hotel.
Coach Moyer had to stay behind for a coaches' roundtable at 3:00 but Dan Wesley, the Rochester coach has an individual here, so they are coming back in his rental car together. We traded and brought Nick Palladino (a freshman) back in the van with us.
The guys have dispersed to their rooms to either nap or head to the pool before we all reconvine in the lobby at 5:30 for dinner.
8:30 p.m.: Not long after I finished the last post, I got a text from Coach Moyer that he had returned and was heading over to the mall. The two of us scouted the rather large mall just across the parking lot from our hotel. A relatively quick trip before we returned to the lobby just before 5 and waited for the Coach Yeck, the five players and Coach Wesley and Nick to join us so the 10 of us could pile into the van and head to dinner.
The original plan had us heading to Macaroni Grill. I should probably back up, though, for full context. While in the lobby I called ahead to assure the 10 of us could get in there. They informed me they did not take reservations. Alright, well, we decided to chance it.
As we arrived at the Macaroni Grill, we quickly realized that it was quite busy - then it dawned on us - Mother's Day. We let the players out at the door while Coaches Moyer and Wesley and I went to park the van. By the time we got out, they had come back out to inform us that it was at least an hour wait...unless we had a reservation. Irony of all ironies.
We saw a place across the street but decided against it. There was another restaurant we passed that had promise - Harper's Restaurant. We gave it a shot. As luck would have it, they had a party of 10 that never showed up so we got right in.
Excellent meal. Everyone was pleased...especially with the bread.
Dessert, of course, was necessary. So, we stopped at Ben & Jerry's on the way back to the hotel. We pulled into the hotel just before 8 and the guys decided it would be black shorts and white shirts tomorrow as they headed to the rooms to make it in time for first pitch of the Phillies-Braves game.
Back at it tomorrow morning with breakfast at 7.
Monday, May 9
3:30 p.m.: We just returned to the hotel after the second, and final, practice round.
The day once again started with our breakfast buffet at 7 a.m. in the hotel ballroom. French toast and bacon were the main items on this morning's menu. By 7:40, we had the van loaded and headed back to the golf course. On the way over, the guys decided to plug in the iPod for some Taylor Swift. Nothing surprises me with this team any more.
Upon arrival at the course, we needed to be shuttled to the backside of the driving range since we were scheduled for the East Course. With more than 200 golfers, they needed to use both sides of the range during the week to allow each team space to hit balls.
Around 8:40, they had all of the teams on the backside of the range load up and head to the front side near the clubhouse for final instructions before they shuttled everyone out.
We made our way to hole 14. We were, however, the second group off the hole this morning so we had to wait for Carroll (Wis.) to play off the tee and out of the fairway before we could get things going. By 9:05, our guys were teeing it up and underway for what would turn into a nearly five-hour round.
Just before we headed to 18, Coach Moyer pulled the guys together and reminded them that this was the course we were playing tomorrow so when they came around to No. 1 to start mentally focusing so when they tee it up on No. 1 tomorrow, they are already in the mentally-tough mindset they will need to be in order to stick around after 36 holes.
After realizing that yesterday's method of delivering the boxed lunches did not work, there was a change in procedure today. Each team was to pick up the lunches at the turn. Coach Moyer and I decided that since we started on 14, we would slide in when the guys got to No. 7 or so and grab the lunches.
As the five of them made it to the green on the par-5 sixth, we headed in (with the Carroll coach, who was with him team on the next tee) to grab the lunches and bring them back out. They were just finishing No. 7 when we returned so they hit their tee shots on No. 8 before taking a short break to eat the sandwich.
We finished up the round, adding a ninth member to our entourage in Greg's mother when we reached No. 9.
The highlight of the round came at the 125-yard par-3 12th. All five guys put their tee shots within birdie range with at least three inside of 10 feet.
After the par-5 13th, Coach Moyer once again pulled the guys together so he didn't have to do it once we got back in to the clubhouse. He told them to take care of whatever they needed to work on at the range before heading back. He would once again come back with Coach Wesley (while we took Nick again) after the mandatory pre-championship coaches' meeting to go over everything they need to know - a standard at every NCAA championship event.
By 3:15, we were on the road back to the hotel, making a quick stop at the BP on the way back for drinks and snacks.
The team will once again convene in the lobby at 6:15, dressed formally for the NCAA banquet (which begins at 7 p.m.) to have the official championship team photo taken before heading into the ballroom.
9:30 p.m.: Just returned to the room and changed out of the suit.
I went down to the lobby around 6 p.m. since I still have the banquet tickets in my possession. While in the lobby waiting for the team, I finally caught up with Dave Walters - SID at Guilford - and we chatted for a few minutes about hosting a tournament of this size. He handed me my credential for the week. While a visiting SID at an NCAA championship, most of the time you are considered media and receive a credential as such. There are varying 'levels' of credentials that are handed out at each championship event. The highest level is NCAA. Those are reserved for the NCAA rep and NCAA committee (and are always the blue of the NCAA). There is also ALL-ACCESS (those are mostly reserved for administrators of the host and anyone else who needs to be able to go anywhere and everywhere) - the designated color at this championship is red. There is also EVENT MANAGEMENT (not necessarily applicable at this championship), VOLUNTEER (orange here), OFFICIAL, VIP, one for the covering television agency (either CBS or ESPN, depending on the championship - it's the credential that gets you into the television compound), and MEDIA (yellow here). I'll report on any others I see tomorrow. There are some championships where there could be upwards of 20 or 25 different creditials, gaining access at different points.
Everyone was in the lobby by 6:15 and the team got in line for the official team photo for the NCAA. The photo was done by 6:30 and we waited for the parents to join us. The doors opened to the ballroom at 6:45 and we headed in to our assigned table. The parents had their own table after a bit of discussion since apparently the ballroom was set up for fewer people than tickets sold. There was some confusion at least.
The program started shortly after 7:00 with opening remarks by some of the key players in putting on the championship before dinner was served in two buffet lines. A fantastic spread of salad, veggies, pasta, lasagna and chicken marsala along with rolls and a selection of desserts.
USGA President Jim Hyler gave the "keynote address" after dinner before the chair of the NCAA committee introduced all of the teams and individuals participating this week. The head rules official finished up the night with a couple of reminders before the teams departed the ballroom and jammed the elevators to head back to their rooms.
Our players said goodbye to their parents and headed upstairs for the final pre-championship meeting with Coach Moyer. He shared with the players a couple of the things that they went over in the coaches' meeting, including clarification on a couple of rules and procedures.
Since we have a late tee time, meaning we will take advantage of the lunch buffet at the course before we tee off, the players have the option of breakfast in the morning or sleeping in. Regardless of their choice, they are to be in the lobby ready to leave at 10 a.m. in green and the new yellow shorts for tomorrow it all starts for real.
Tuesday, May 10
10:45 a.m.: We have arrived at the course for our first round. Just Coach Moyer and I had breakfast this morning at the hotel. The players made it to the lobby just before 10 a.m. and we were on the road by 10. Upon arrival, they unloaded their clubs from the van and headed right for the lunch buffet.
Coach Moyer and I decided that we would eat after the five guys tee off since we had breakfast. I found Dave again and figured out where to set up camp. We have Media Headquarters in the front corner of the Cafe, so I am set up, looking out at the first tee on the East Course, where our guys will be teeing up starting about 75 minutes from right now.
1:15 p.m.: All five players have teed off as the last off the East Course today. After Paul hit his tee shot, Coach Moyer and I came in to the lunch buffet before he headed out to check on the players.
I headed back to Media Headquarters, where the attendance has grown to a few more people since I last left it. Checking in on the live scoring, which provides updates as a player passes through every three holes (3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18). The first three players have crossed the first scoring station. Mazurek is even through his first three while Connaughton and Johnson are both three over. Looks like there are some numbers to be had today. Texas Lutheran is currently the leader in the clubhouse with a 292. The highest score posted so far is 334 by Penn State-Harrisburg.
3:30 p.m.: Not a whole lot more to report as of right now. I've spent most of the last couple of hours inside, chatting with other SIDs who are here before heading out just in time to see all five players make the turn.
It is a warm one out there and everyone appears to be grinding. Weather.com reports that it's currently 78 and there few to no clouds in the sky. The forecast is for chance of some showers and thunderstorms after 9:00 tonight. There is also quite a gap between two of the groups in the threesome in front of ours, meaning groups have been waiting on almost every hole to just prolong the day. The pace-of-play estimate was given at 2 hours, 16 minutes for the front 9. It was closer to 2 hours, 40 minutes for our players which means the round could stretch upwards of five hours or longer unless the pace picks up on the back 9.
Already 10 teams in the clubhouse under 300. The Green Terror are at +12 through nine holes. Even-par as a team is 288, meaning +12 right now with four players having nine pars each puts the team at 300.
4:15 p.m.: I've spent the better part of the last half hour just watching scores update on Golfstat's live scoring. It's the nature of my job to analyze numbers. I can tend to make some fairly accurate predictions - and they become more and more accurate as things play out. However, I can't even begin to figure out where this is going to end up. When I came in from watching the turn, I thought we needed to be in the 305 range to be within striking distance. Based on what I had just witnessed, I wasn't sure how close we were going to be to that number.
As I continued to watch final numbers be posted, I'm thinking teams are going to have to be at 299 or below to sleep on a spot in the final 15. Right now there are 13 teams in the clubhouse between 286 and 299. We seem to be holding steady at +11 to +12 on the back, which would put us in a solid position playing the easier course tomorrow.
The thought also just entered my head that with us having the first tee times tomorrow and the fact we could be squarely on the cut, we may have to be back to the course for a team playoff. It's going to be a long next 26 hours.
6:45 p.m.: Just a quick note before heading downstairs for the coaches' association banquet - I'll have more notes and a full recap of the round later tonight. The round ended up averaging about 5:30 for the guys and Kovalcheck finished up right around 6:10 to give the team a score of 305 for the first round, six strokes behind the cut.
After everyone was finished, I took Bowman, who finished up a round of 70 and in a tie for fifth place overall, to Media Headquarters to get a quote for Dave to include in his generic AP story. Prior to that, I stood near the 18th green waiting to see the final scores coming in and joining our ever-growing group to figure out a score in our heads.
9:15 p.m.: The GCAA banquet was very nice. Bowman and Kovalcheck were both honored as all-region selections. Upon finishing, I briefly went back up to the room before heading back down to the lobby to hang out for a while with Coaches Moyer and Wesley. I wrapped up the all-region release and recap from day one. I had pre-written most of the all-region release at the course, so it was just a matter a putting some finishing touches on it and posting it.
Not much else has really transpired tonight. I had to meet up with Lenny Reich, the SID at Mount Union, because his phone charger accidentily ended up my bag when I was leaving the course. Not a big deal - luckily we're in the same hotel. Tomorrow will be an early morning with breakfast at 5:30 a.m. for the team before we head out to the course in all black for a 7 a.m. tee time. It will definitely be a long day since even after we post our score, we'll have to wait around to find out what the rest of the scores are.
Wednesday, May 11
6:15 a.m.: When the alarm goes off at 5:05 a.m., it's way too early. However, breakfast was being served at 5:30 and we were in the van by 5:55 to head to the course. Looks like it could end up being a really long day. Some showers are starting to roll in to the course. A weather alert text from the NCAA to the coaches said that there is definitely some weather to our west but it should be out of here within the hour and we're still looking to start at 7 a.m.
We'll see if this becomes a start-and-stop round. The radar has got some nasty stuff to the west of Greensboro but the heaviest stuff appears to be heading southeast just to our west.
8:00 a.m.: All five guys have teed off. As I pull up live scoring, Johnson and Connaughton have come through the first scoring stop after No. 3 even-par. It will be a long day of scoreboard watching - even after our round is complete.
The guys are setting the pace this morning on the West Course so they shouldn't have to experience the same backups they were seeing yesterday afternoon. Looks like the rain has cleared out of here - at least for now. There's still a chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.
8:20 a.m.: A very strong start for the Green Terror this morning. All five players have crossed through the scoring tent on No. 3, posing a collective -2. Three of the five guys (Connaughton, Mazurek, Kovalcheck) already have a birdie on the scorecard. Connaughton bounced back off a first-hole bogie to get back to even through 3.
The squad is already making its charge up, moving into a tie for 17th place with very few teams having posted any sort of score yet.
9:15 a.m.: Johnson has made the turn at +3. The good news is that is currently our highest score posted on the course. Bowman is +1 after yesterday's -2. Connaughton is even through 6 while the seniors are both under par. Mazurek is -3 through 6 and Kovalcheck is -2.
It's already a nerve-wracking morning in Media Headquarters. There is one huge problem with being the first team off in the morning (beyond being up before the sun) - the scores ahead of us on the leaderboard aren't changing. The last group won't tee off until 12:40 this afternoon, which is after all of our guys should be off the course.
I did chat with Kevin Beattie, who is on the NCAA committee, about today's round. The committee is already fully preparing that they will have to conduct a playoff for the cut. That could prove interesting. We're still upwards of 8-9 hours before we can get to that point, though.
10:30 a.m.: The round continues to roll - via live scoring for me since the West Course never returns to the clubhouse until the players hit No. 18. The middle of the course seems to start to bring the scores back to reality. With two scores posted through 15 and three through 12, the squad sits at +8 on the day, falling to 26th overall. However, we remember that the teams ahead of us in the standing will fall back as the day goes on.
My thoughts right now say that if they can hold steady through the end of the round and be in the clubhouse around 300 and post something in the range of 605, it should be good enough to be in the field for the final two days...possibly even without having to take part in a playoff late this afternoon. Only time will tell though.
The group of us in Media Headquarters just spent the last few minutes discussing college nicknames - specifically some of the more unique ones in this year's field - the Green Terror among them, of course. Others we discussed: Storming Petrels, Praying Colonels, Jonnies, Presidents, etc. These are among the many things that SIDs do to pass the time when you get a group together in one place.
10:45 a.m.: According to live scoring, Johnson has hit the 18th tee in 3 hours, 45 minutes. A spectacular pace compared to yesterday's round. There appears to be a bit of a lag between groups, so I'll hold off heading out to 18 just yet but the next update will likely not come until after all five guys are in the clubhouse.
12:00 p.m.: Just a quick update before we take a lunch break. Bowman shot an even-par 72 to sit at -2 for the tournament. As a team, the squad posted a 299 to put a 604 on the board in the clubhouse as the final wave starts to tee off.
The last hour or more was spent on the 18th green, refreshing the live scoring to see where each player stood as they came to the tee. A very intense atmosphere among the players and parents. A huge up-and-down out of the bunker for Bowman saved the round of 72 just before Kovalcheck put his approach within 12 feet and then left the birdie putt short to settle for par and a 74.
2:00 p.m.: The waiting game continues. After lunch and an extended stay at the course, trying to figure out scenarios there, we finally took a group photo with all of the parents in front of the NCAA banner before heading back to the hotel.
The next two hours or so will be spent - at least by me - watching the leaderboard and trying to figure out what's going to happen. Either way, our plan is to be back in the hotel lobby at 4:15 to head back to the course in case we need to be there for a playoff.
4:15 p.m.: Things are starting to come much more into focus as the field finishes up. We have decided to forego a team trip back to the course since right now it appears that 600 is going to be the magic number...just to get into a playoff. With 13 teams still on the course, we really only have a realistic shot of jumping one at this point. The 604 was still a fantastic 36 holes and as Coach Moyer has said multiple times since the round finished up at 12:00 - if you had told us before the week that we'd post a 604 in the national championship, we would have taken it and ran. At this point, all you can do is tip your hat to the 16 or so teams that are going to go historically low.
Over the last couple of hours, I did some research. Beside the fact that if the cut was still 23 teams as it has been, if the scores were equal to what they were last year in Hershey, we would have been in the field. The 15th-place score last year after 36 holes was a 619. Unbelievable numbers being put up this year. The good news is that everything is looking right now like Bowman will be around for the final 36 holes, competing for the individual title and All-America status.
Coach Moyer and I are heading over to the course in about a half-hour to get Bowman's tee time for sure and see what else we need to know. I also still need to talk with a couple of the guys and get together a mini-piece with quotes for the NCAA story, chronicling "the waiting game." I'll post here later tonight what gets put together.
6:15 p.m.: Coach Moyer and I returned from the course, finding out the official word that Bowman had made the field as an individual. It looks like he will playing in the position of the No. 4 individual and thus teeing off at 8:20 a.m. off No. 1 but we'll receive that official word when the tee times are releases following the team and individual playoffs for the final spots.
We're meeting in about 15 minutes downstairs for dinner - another attempt at Macaroni Grill. It will be the final time that the entire group will dine together for this trip. More details later on as well as the full event recap and mini-story on "The Waiting Game".
9:30 p.m.: We're approaching 17 hours since I woke up this morning...and a long and stressful day it has been. After the final team meal at Macaroni Grill that included the parents who were still in town, we returned to the hotel for a quick meeting in the lobby.
The highlight of the meal was the team convincing our waitress that it was Coach Moyer's birthday - a consistent ploy that rarely works.
Bowman, Coach Moyer and I will be meeting downstairs at 6:45 a.m. for breakfast before heading to the course for his 8:20 a.m. tee time. The rest of the team and Coach Yeck are planning to be in the lobby at 8:30 a.m. to enjoy breakfast before hitting the road to return to Westminster.
As long as the last two (or four, depending on how you want to look at it), the next two are going to be even longer. Now that we're down to the final 81 competitors and Bowman enters the final 36 tied for ninth place overall, the real work of media relations begins.
My understanding is that Friday's final round will be available via live webcast through NCAA.com. Because of that, the commentator(s) will be looking for tidbits of information to share during the broadcast about each golfer. I'm sure they will be around getting a feel for things tomorrow, so I will have to spend time in conversations sharing what I know and any good stories that can be used on the air.
As promised earlier, the mini-story I passed along to Dave Walters at Guilford for his media notes:
The Waiting Game
On any other day, sitting in the clubhouse on a 604 wouldn't provide any drama. When it's at the NCAA Championship, there's always tense moments. When you know that low scores are being had, the tension builds. When you know there will be another five hours of waiting just to see if you made the cut, it makes you want to pull your hair out.
That's exactly the fate for McDaniel on Wednesday.
"It was a very nerve-wracking day," recalled senior captain KJ Mazurek. "We had no control over what was going on. It was just watching the computer screen and waiting. It was good knowing that we were in the clubhouse with a pretty good score."
The Green Terror was the first team out at 7 a.m. and thus the first team in the clubhouse, setting the number that needed to be chased to make the cut. As the day went along, the grouping in the middle got tighter and tighter and the tension continued to grow.
Prior to leaving the clubhouse, senior Paul Kovalcheck echoed the sentiment of most of the team: "I can't watch any more. Just tell me when it's over either way, [Luke]."
The later the afternoon went and the more clear it was becoming that while 604 was a great number - a number that included the team's best round of the spring (299), it was not going to be good enough. As it would turn out, the number would be 600 - 19 strokes lower than the 15th spot in 2010 at Hershey.
"After we realized that, it was hard but we know we had a good showing," Mazurek added. "I wish we made the cut - that was our goal coming in - but at the same time, we played really well and we gave it our all."
It was not all disappointments for McDaniel, however. Junior Greg Bowman will play on as an individual after playing the first 36 holes at two-under par. The future captain will continue to represent his Green Terror squad and his teammates will cheer him on from Westminster.
"I'm proud of Greg. He's a great player. He leads by example and will make a great captain next year."
The chronicle will continue as the three of us remain in Greensboro for the next two days.
Thursday, May 12
8:30 a.m.: The three of us were downstairs in the ballroom for breakfast by 6:45 a.m. and on the road to the course by 7:15 a.m.
I came to the conclusion this morning that the hotel apparently only has two buffets that it puts out for breakfast and has been alternating this week. Bacon, cereal and fruit is always on the menu but one day is scrambled eggs, potatoes and grits and the other is french toast and oatmeal.
On the way the course, a light rain began to fall and has been a heavy mist since we got here about an hour and 15 minutes ago.
Bowman spent some time on both the range and putting green this morning before his 8:20 tee time off No. 1 with two of the others playing now as individuals.
Coach Moyer and I were to the tee box by 8:05 and Bowman was not far behind us. The two of us made our way to the tent and chatted with those who were there, including the starter and volunteer designated to the be the "walking scorer" with the group. Committee member Kevin Beattie was also up there and NCAA representative Donnie Wagner joined us before the tee time. Included in the conversation was a discussion about the changing of the name from Western Maryland to McDaniel, brought up when Donnie asked if anyone knew the old name and pawning it off as part of his Division III trivia for the day.
Back to the walking scorer. Since are cut down to just 27 groups today, each group will have a person walking with them and calling in scores every hole so today's live scoring will be updated every hole instead of every three.
10:45 a.m.: Just came back in after watching Bowman putt on No. 9 and hit his drive on No. 10. He went out in 43 (+7) in much more difficult conditions. The pins are not nearly as accessible as they were in the first two rounds coupled with a relatively stiff breeze and on-and-off rain/heavy mist.
The task now for me is to find and research dining options for lunch and dinner.
5:15 p.m.: There hasn't been a whole lot going on over the course of the day. Bowman finished his day with an 82 and we headed out from the course about 1:15 or so. Before he came in - a few conversations to share:
- The main topic of conversation at Media Headquarters this morning centered around St. John's (Minn.). How they are good in many sports...the uniqueness of the SJU/CSB relationship...the unique style their legendary football coach (of 62 years) has with his series of Nos...etc.
- At one point, I ran into Coach Wesley and Nick from Rochester. We talked about Greg's round and having his coach by his side all day. Their flight out was not until after 6:00 tonight, so they decided to take in some golf.
- Talked with Kevin and Jeff on the NCAA committee about various subjects, including the higher play today. We also talked about the origin of the Stormy Petrels and the 21-inning Olgethorpe-Rhodes conference baseball tournament game.
After we left the course, we chose to stop at Jimmy John's on the way back to the hotel for lunch. After lunch, we dropped Bowman off at the hotel before Coach Moyer and I headed back out to the course. We met back up with Coach Wesley and Nick and chatted for a while in the cafe before they decided they should head back to grab their stuff from the hotel and head to the airport. As it turns out, they had the option for an early flight or the 6:20 flight and decided to sleep in and take in some golf since neither had any pressing matters to be back for this afternoon. A very enjoyable time.
We got back to the hotel shortly after 4:00 and decided to just relax some before meeting up for dinner at 6:30.
9:00 p.m.: We returned from dinner about a half-hour ago and returned to our rooms to pack and get some sleep before one last day on the links. Upon the recommendation of a friend, the three of us and Greg's mom went to Lucky 32 for fine southern cooking. It was a very good meal.
My packing is basically done so I am ready to go when we meet downstairs at 6:15 for breakfast and to get on the road so we can be to the course by 7 a.m. Tee times were moved up 30 minutes tomorrow, meaning Bowman nows tees off at 7:50 a.m. tomorrow. It will likely be a long day. The forecast is for rain and possible storms that could cause a suspension of play at some point. The final round will be something else. The NCAA is providing a live webcast that, from my understanding, will show every group as they come through 18. Apparently they have a 3 1/2-hour window for broadcasting and it supposed to go on the air at 11 a.m. I'll provide the direct link as soon as I have it in the morning.
Friday, May 13
8:00 a.m.: As promised, it was a 7:50 tee time this morning. We were a bit worried on the way over that we might have a fog delay but alas, everyone's teeing it up on time. Very low clouds this morning and a light mist but the forecast is for clearing and definite warming. Once the fog burns off, the forecast is for temps to skyrocket quickly into and through the 70s (it's 62 right now). The good is: looks like the majority of the storms have been pushed back to after 4, which means we should be able to get the round in with no stoppages - if the forecast holds.
We were in the lobby and had the car loaded by 6:20 before enjoying one final breakfast (we may not eat bacon for weeks after having it every day this week) and loaded up to head over right around 6:45.
Had a chance to talk with Donnie on the first tee before the guys teed off and tell him personally what a fine tournament this was. He agreed and said he felt everything this week had been tremendous as well.
Now, it will just be a matter of watching the scoreboards, posting a few photos from this morning and helping Dave if he needs anything getting the webstreaming guys on the air.
10:45 a.m.: Bowman has just seven holes left in his 72-hole tournament. Through 11 holes today, he is +3, bringin him to +11 for his first 65. I've been able to post some more pictures from around the course today as well as talk with Brandon, who will be doing the webcast this afternoon, just briefly to give him a couple of notes for when Bowman comes down the 18th - his 72nd hole of the competition this week.
I'm hoping to have a couple more minutes with him before he gets on the air to share some team tidbits for the week that hopefully he can work in to the broadcast. We'll see, though. He was hoping to make his way back up here with his notes before the light goes on.
9:30 p.m.: The journey is finally over but I figured one last entry to wrap up the trip. The long week finished up just about 1 p.m. Six rounds in six days plus everything else that surrounded it went by in a flash but was a very mentally draining week.
After Bowman walked off the 18th green with his final-round 77, that included a very up-and-down final nine holes, he signed his final card. We loaded the car, including the driving range sign that the NCAA allows each participating team to keep. We were going to hit the diner around the corner from the hotel but Bowman insisted on the Chinese buffet and Coach Moyer and I agreed.
We were on the road back north right about 2:00 and pulled into the clubhouse parking lot about 8:50. We made a stop at the Denny's in Fredericksburg for dinner and didn't really run into any traffic problems.
The highlight came in the final half-hour of the trip when Coach Moyer randomly added to his deer-crossing theory and said that they get hit because they see the double yellow line and realize they can't cross so they stop and *BAM*. It may have just been because it was a long week but the three of us were crying we were laughing so hard.
Hope everyone enjoyed reading this week. Make sure you check out all of the photos from the week and each recap of the rounds of golf for more information on the trip.