Point Park Men's Golf competing in NAIA National Championship May 14-17
May 13, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET
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SALEM, Ore. -- Point Park University is set to begin competition in the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship tournament May 14-17 at Creekside Golf Club in Salem, Ore. The Pioneers, champions of the Kentucky Intecollegiate Athletic Conference, are in the NAIA national tournament for the second time in program history and the first time since 1969.
Point Park had its practice round at Creekside G.C. on Monday, May 13 at 9 a.m. PT. The 72-hole tournament includes 30 teams and 154 players, and the Pioneers will begin national championship play May 14 with a tee time of 8:30 a.m. PT going off of hole No. 10. Point Park will begin the second day May 15 with a tee time of 12:40 p.m. PT on No. 1.
The tournament continues through May 17 with May 16 tee times to be announced after the conclusion of Round 2. Following Round 3 on May 16, the field will be cut to the top 17 teams and the top 40 individuals for Round 4 on May 17.
Point Park enters the national tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country although it is unranked in the latest NAIA Men's Golf Top 25 Poll. The Pioneers have won four tournaments in a row and were undefeated in their four events this spring, culminating with a 16-shot win at the KIAC Tournament April 29-30 in Richmond, Ky.
Point Park brings a team scoring average of 303.44 to Salem, Ore. The Pioneers' five players who will compete in the national championship all have a season scoring average under 77.43 led by senior Austin Elder at 76.07.
In order to be near the top of the leaderboard, Point Park will have to be at or likely below a team score of 300 each round. The top teams in the NAIA have scoring averages in the low-to-mid 290s, a range where Point Park has been in several times this year.
Point Park has broken 300 in seven of its 18 rounds during the 2012-13 season and four of its nine rounds this spring. The Pioneers had their best team score over 18 holes in the final round of the Berea (Ky.) Spring Tee-Off March 30 when they shot 291 as a team.
The Pioneers played some of their best golf early in the KIAC Tournament when they fired a first-round 294 to take a lead of 21 shots over the other seven teams. The Pioneers did come back to the field with rounds of 302 and 307 over the final 36 holes of the tournament.
Creekside Golf Club, site of the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, is Par 72 and measures 6,887 yards from the back tees. It has a slope of 138 and a rating of 73.2. It was designed by Peter Jacobsen and built in 1993.
The course is not overly long, which benefits the Pioneers since three of their five players are not considered big hitters but rather rely on hitting fairways and greens consistently.
"Our key will be to keep the ball in play, get to that 150-yard marker and take our chances (for birdie) when we have them," Point Park head coach Gabe Bubon said Monday. "If we play like that and play smart golf, we can put ourselves in position to put up good scores.
"There are a lot of teams here that have national-tournament experience," said Bubon, "so that will be something we will have to overcome as first-timers. There are a lot of good teams here, but we have to remember that we are playing the course, not the other teams. But at the end of the day, we have to be able to score, too.
"If we can get off to a good start to the tournament, we have a chance to be right there with the way the guys have played this spring."
POINT PARK'S PLAYERS:
Each of the 30 teams in the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship will have five players competing, and the top four scores are added together for the team score. Point Park will take to Salem, Ore., the same five players who won the KIAC Tournament. Here is an overview of Point Park's competitors:
Austin Elder (Sr., Warren, Ohio, Scoring Avg. 76.07) -- Elder is the leader of the team and the No. 1 player. He was the first recruit by coach Gabe Bubon when the program was reinstated in 2009 and is the only four-year player on the team. Elder is a two-time all-conference player who earned All-KIAC honors by finishing third at the KIAC Tournament this year. In his six events in 2012-13, Elder has finished in the Top 10 four times, including a victory at the Berea (Ky.) Spring Tee-Off. Elder is the most consitent player for the Pioneers, and although he's not a long hitter, he's the best player on the team in hitting fairways and greens.
Chris Bowen (Jr., Bethel Park, Pa., Scoring Avg. 76.33) -- Bowen is second on the team in scoring average at 76.33, which is a career best. He is having a great junior year although he is the only member of the starting five who was not a starting player in the conference tournament last year as a sophomore. Bowen has placed in the Top 10 in five of eight events this year and was medalist at Cedarville. He placed fifth at the KIAC tourney to earn all-conference honors. Bowen is one of the longer hitters on the Pioneers' team and also has a strong all-around game from tee to green.
Collin Holmes (So., Avon Lake, Ohio, Scoring Avg. 76.61) -- Holmes is a sophomore and the only member of the starting lineup that is not an upperclassman. He has earned all-conference honors both years of his career including this year, when he was the Pioneers' top finisher at the KIAC Tournament. Holmes finished second in the conference by playing the final 36 holes in 1-over par with rounds of 72-73. Holmes has the longest drive on the team, which gives him a lot of chances at birdie.
Billy Wivell (Sr., Deer Lakes, Pa., Scoring Avg. 76.82) -- Wivell is fourth on the team with a scoring average of 76.82, and the senior is in his second season at Point Park since transferring from CCAC-Allegheny. Wivell gives the Pioneers a player who can go low out of the No. 4 position as he is a threat to put together a stong 18-hole score on any given day. He has three Top-10s in four spring events, although he had to withdraw from the KIAC Tournament due to injury. At the time, he was among the tournament leaders with a 73 in the first round.
James Daley (Jr., Youngstown, Ohio, Scoring Avg. 77.43) -- Daley is the No. 5 man and can always be counted on for a scoring in the 70s. A junior, he has been a starter his whole career with only Elder competing in more career events among active players. Probably the best putter on the team, Daley is not a long hitter but makes up for it by being accurate and having an excellent short game. Daley has two Top-10s in four events this spring.
POINT PARK'S TEAM RESUME:
Point Park's resume this spring includes winning a variety of tournaments across all levels of small-college golf and a perfect, 4-0 record. First, the Pioneers bested a field of KIAC teams at the Berea (Ky.) College Spring Tee-Off March 29-30. Then, Point Park beat a field of entirely NCAA Division II schools at the Cedarville (Ohio) Tournament April 4-5. The Pioneers then beat an NCAA Division III field at the Carnegie Mellon University Invitational April 13-14 before winning the KIAC Tournament April 29-30.
The Pioneers are hoping that success across several divisions of golf will translate well up against the NAIA's best this week. Point Park's only other national tournament appearance in men's golf came in 1969 when the Pioneers finished third in the nation led by future PGA Tour player Jim Masserio, who finished fourth individually.
But the Point Park men's golf program was discontinued in 1972. It was reinstated in 2009 after a 37-year hiatus, and this year's team is just four years removed from that. It took the program just three short years to win a conference title, as the Pioneers were American Mideast Conference Tournament champions in 2012. Unfortunately, the AMC did not have enough teams for its champion to get an automatic bid to nationals.
Point Park joined the KIAC beginning in 2012-13 and won the KIAC Tournament in its first year in the new conference. The Pioneers were picked third in the KIAC preseason poll.
The tournament will offer Live Scoring for all 154 players. At the end of each day of the tournament, a show entitled "Sunset in Salem," will provide a daily video webcast recapping the action from that day. Air time for Sunset in Salem in 9 p.m. PT each May 14-17. Links to Live Scoring by Golfstat and the Sunset in Salem show courtesy of tournament host, the Cascade Collegiate Conference, are at the links at the top of this page.
For the first two rounds of the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, the Pioneers will be paired with NAIA No. 5-ranked Johnson & Wales (Fla.) and No. 24 Marian (Ind.). For the third round, teams will be re-grouped according to the leaderboard. The field is cut to the top 17 teams and the top 40 individuals after the third round.