Red Wolves prevail in home tournament

Arkansas State’s men’s golf team displays the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate team trophy after winning the event Tuesday at RidgePointe Country Club.

JONESBORO — Arkansas State’s dominance of its home men’s golf tournament continued Tuesday at RidgePointe Country Club.

The Red Wolves fired an 11-under par 277 in the final round of the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate to win the 17-team tournament for the sixth consecutive season. ASU finished with a three-round team total of 858, six strokes under par and 21 strokes ahead of runner-up Oral Roberts.

Seven Red Wolves finished in the top eight individually as ASU claimed its 20th tournament championship under seventh-year head coach Mike Hagen.

“I thought I would have a depth problem this year in a good way. I don’t think we’ve seen that right away, but we also have a lot of new faces and a lot of young guys as well,” Hagen said. “I think you are finally starting to see guys get comfortable on the golf course and just within the entire team.

“When you play at home, too, you do expect your guys to play a little bit better if they do know the golf course, but still to have seven guys near the top of the leaderboard, when you have 16 other schools, is pretty impressive.”

ASU’s Jack Madden, playing individually, earned medalist honors with a 5-under par 211 for the tournament.

Madden got off to a rough start in rough conditions Monday morning, but rallied to finish the first round at 76. He shot 66 in the second round Monday afternoon and came back to fire a 69 Tuesday, finishing one stroke ahead of ORU’s Dustin Hasley.

“I’m really excited to come out with the win considering my start. I was seven over through four holes,” Madden said. “I looked at the leaderboard and I was tied for 93rd, which is dead last. Two and a half rounds later, to be at the top of the leaderboard, is pretty special for me.”

Madden wasn’t the only golfer who experienced problems in Monday morning’s conditions.

ASU led the team standings by four strokes after the first round with a 4-over par 292. The Red Wolves improved to 289 in the second round Monday as weather conditions improved.

Hagen said he had never seen the RidgePointe course play like it did Monday morning, adding that ASU didn’t have much of a home-course advantage in the gusting wind.

“Fighting that all day, I didn’t know what would take out of our guys. I know it took a lot on me and I didn’t even hit a shot,” Hagen said. “You grind in that all day and for them to come back out here and shoot the score they did today, I’m really happy because those are the numbers we’re used to seeing in really good weather around this place when we do host. The winds, they were light and variable, and it was sunny. The course set up really good.”

ASU’s Luka Naglic shot a 3-under par 213, including a 68 Tuesday, to finish third individually. Pierce Johnson, who joined Madden in playing individually, and Chris Rahm both shot 68 Tuesday to tie for fourth at 215.

Lucas Cena came in seventh at an even-par 216 after shooting 70 Tuesday. Devyn Pappas and Felix Krammer tied for eighth at 218, with Pappas shooting 71 Tuesday and Krammer finishing at 73.

Madden’s final round included seven birdies, including four straight on the third through sixth holes.

“Just making the lineup is pretty hard here,” Madden said. “I actually missed it this week, so to win and not be in the lineup is something that doesn’t happen an awful lot. When it does, you need to enjoy it.”

Behind ASU, the top five in the team standings included ORU (879), Loyola-Chicago (881), Oklahoma Christian (884) and Valparaiso (886).

ASU’s next tournament is the Pinetree Intercollegiate, scheduled Oct. 18-19 in Kennesaw, Ga.