Point Park men's golf winds down NAIA Men's Golf National Championship
May 16, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. ET
Point Park players at the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., during the third round May 15, 2014 (L to R): Steve Veydt, Eric Poplowski, Chris Bowen, James Daley and Collin Holmes. Photo by Lori Holmes.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Point Park University men's golf team made its best attempt to put together another big rally in the third round of the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, but the Pioneers can't say that they didn't go for it. And with the conclusion of the tournament came to an end the best two-run run in the history of Point Park men's golf with consecutive trips to NAIAs.
Point Park shot a team score of 311 in the third round, which began on Thursday and wasn't completed until Friday morning due to rain and lightning that arrived at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. And after the weather horn sounded, no more golf was played on the day.
As a result, the tournament was shortened to 54 holes and no cut was made. The tournament was originally scheduled for 72 holes with only the top teams playing the final round on Friday. The tournament was held at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., and hosted by The Sun Conference and Embry-Riddle (Fla.).
The Point Park team had just a few holes to play on Friday morning to finish up its third round and complete its second-consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championship. The Pioneers ended up in 27th place.
And after a disappointing first-round score of 321 on Tuesday, Point Park put together one of the best rounds of the tournament with a 296 in round two on Wednesday.
The Pioneers did their best to go low and chase birdies in round three in an attempt to rally. But they could not climb the leaderboard with a score of 311 over their final 18 holes.
"We were disappointed with our score in the first round, no question," said Pioneers coach Gabe Bubon. "But to see the guys respond in the second round and show how they can play, that was all you can ask for as a coach. They showed what they are all about, and they showed they can score with any team out here. I am really proud of them for that.
"Our guys faced adversity early, and they responded to it. They could've packed it in, but they didn't. And on the last day, we were trying to go low again, and sometimes it can get away from you. We were playing aggressive golf, and we didn't get the same breaks. But that's golf."
Point Park's three-day scores were 321-296-311 for a 54-hole total of 928. The College of Coastal Georgia won the NAIA team championship at 1-over par for the tournament with rounds of 285-296-284 for a tournament total of 865. That was good for a four-shot victory over Texas Wesleyan (292-285-292) and Oklahoma City (287-294-288).
Point Park's best individual performers on the week were a pair of juniors who will be back next year. Collin Holmes, from Avon Lake, Ohio, and Eric Poplowski, from Economy, Pa., both shot 14-over 230 for the tournament. That was good for a tie for 95th place in the field of 156.
Holmes put together strong scores of 74-75 over his final 36 holes. Poplowski, a transfer from CCAC-Allegheny where he was a junior-college All-American, had his week highlighted by a 2-under 70 in round two. He finished with a 79 in the final round.
Senior Chris Bowen, from Bethel Park, Pa., was just two shots back of Holmes and Poplowski at 232 (+16) for the three rounds. He fired a 1-over 73 on day two and birdied his final hole on Friday morning to shot 80 in the last round.
Senior James Daley, from Youngstown, Ohio, ended his career with a 78 in the final round to shot 241 (+25) for the week. Fellow senior Steve Veydt, from Cecil, Pa., carded a 79 in the final round to shoot 246 (+30).
For the 2013-14 season, the Pioneers finished strong with victories in three of their five spring tournaments, including their second KIAC Tournament championship in a row. For the three seniors, it brought an end to the careers of players who led the way for the best two-year stretch in the history of Point Park men's golf.
The Pioneers had never been to back-to-back NAIA national tournaments before 2013 and 2014. The only other time the program went to NAIAs was in 1969 when Point Park finished fourth in Fort Worth, Texas. The program was then discontinued and at present day is still only in its fifth year since being reinstated at the school in 2009.
Point Park will look to make it three trips in a row the NAIA national tournament if it can return again next year. The NAIA tourney will once again be in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2015.
"All in all, we wish we shot better this week, but we competed hard and never quit," said Bubon. "For a round, we played with the best teams in the NAIA. But in a 3-4 day tournament, you have to put the rounds together. I think the guys put a lot of pressure on themselves the first day to have us finish high and get in the (NAIA) Top 25 (Poll) and advance the program. But overall in their careers, they have done that. We are getting votes in the Top 25 now, and we've been here two straight years.
"Overall it was a very successful year. We won three tournaments, and we made it back her to NAIAs. The goal is to keep moving the program forward, and we did that. We never want the program to get stagnant.
"For the seniors, Chris and James have been a part of a lot of titles as four-year players. And it was great to see Steve become an important player for us this year, and he worked really hard to put himself there. I can't thank those guys enough for what they have brought to the program."
Bowen and Daley, who join Holmes as the only Point Park men's golfers to ever play in two NAIA tournaments to date, shared a couple of special birdies with coach Bubon in the final round.
"I had a chance to walk some holes with the seniors toward the end of the final round," said Bubon. "James made a birdie on the last hole that I walked with him, and Chris made a birdie on the last hole that I was with him as well. That was great to be a part of."
For the complete team and individual leaderboard, click the link at the top of the page.