By Taylor Smith
After a three-week break from competition and a “sub-par” tournament, the Ohio Wesleyan golf team is heading into conference play with strong momentum after finishing second at the Strimer Memorial Invitational on April 13 and 14.
The Bishops finished six shots behind team champion Otterbein at the tournament that honors the memory of former coach and athletic director Bob Strimer. Sophomore Kaneat Nimcharoenwan won the medalist honors of the tournament with an even shot score of 140, one stroke ahead of Olivet’s Nick Julian.
Nimcharoenwan was tied for the lead after day one with a one-over-par 71; the Bishops were eight strokes behind Otterbein with a combined score of 299.
Nimcharoenwan and senior captain Jerry Moore both shot a one below par score of 69 on day two to help the team shoot a combined 283, the best score of the day.
Head Coach Ian Miller said despite a couple players that struggled, the team played really well Saturday, which helped them come out better on Sunday.
“I told them last night (Saturday) I knew they fought real hard yesterday; they did the best they could,” he said.”Obviously we came out today, played with more confidence and…did the best we could as a comeback, and that was good and I was proud of them.”
Miller said he was pleased with almost everyone improving their score and game on day two of the tournament, and having Nimcharoenwan win was a nice touch.
Nimcharoenwan said he was “happy” with his game because he wasn’t letting the bad shots affect him and was never worried about his score.
“I’ve been able to go up and down everywhere (to save par),” he said. “I just don’t focus on the outcome. I focus on the process and playing shot by shot. I don’t think about the future or past.”
Moore, who tied for fifth, said he hit really well on Sunday but didn’t putt well either day. He is still confident with how his game currently feels.
“I definitely need to focus on putting the next two weeks,” he said. “Everything else is feeling good. The putter was feeling good; I’m just not making putts.”
Miller said the team’s success at this tournament is a good stepping stone looking forward and preparing for conference.
“Seventy-two holes at obviously our home golf course and Granville, which we always play well, sort of a second home…” he said. “We’ve got a weekend off here to practice and focus, so it’ll be good.”
Miller said there is “absolutely” a chance for the team to take home the conference title and for either Nimcharoenwan or Moore to take home conference medalist honors.
“We’re almost there,” he said. “You know, we got a little more work to do, but that’s right, we’re ready at the right time. That’s how it’s planned out, so we’re ready to go.”
Nimcharoenwan and Moore both said they and the team try not to get too far ahead of themselves and focus on taking the rest of the season one day at a time.
“We have a really good team right now,” Nimcharoenwan said. “If we all play well, we have a shot. We definitely have a shot.”
Defending conference team champions Wittenberg stand as the Bishops’ greatest obstacle to claiming the team title.
Conference play begins April 27 and 28 at the Denison Invitational followed by the NCAC Invitational May 4 and 5 at Oakhaven Golf Club.