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May 5, 2015

Men's golf wins Horizon League Championship

By Jordan Smith

Cleveland State University’s Men’s Golf team dominated the Horizon League Tournament to repeat as back-to-back champions. The league championship is the Vikings’ sixth in the last 10 years. With the Horizon League tournament victory, the team secured a bid to the NCAA Division 1 Golf Championship Tournament.

The Vikings began the tournament by totaling a first round score of 293. They finished strong on the back nine, which allowed them to take the lead.

The Golden Grizzlies of Oakland University finished just a single shot behind Cleveland State with a score of 293. Cleveland State junior Mitchell Moore shot an even par-72 and tied for third place after the first round. Junior Paul Minko and senior Michael Balcar shot one-over-par with a score of 73 and tied for fifth place. The Vikings finished the day leading the field with two eagles and 48 pars.

Cleveland State would maintain its lead as it built a two-shot lead over the Golden Grizzlies on Saturday with a day two total of 304. Though the Vikings maintained the overall lead, it was Wright State University who would come away with the best score of day two of the tournament as they went on to shoot 301.

Balcar had another one-shot-over-par performance with a tally of 73 and finished in second place individually behind Oakland University’s Evan Bowser. Moore shot 76 and finished in fourth place.
The final day of tournament play saw Oakland University threaten Cleveland State’s lead before solid play on the final nine holes led the Vikings to victory. The Vikings shot six-over-par on the back nine while Oakland shot 15 over. Balcar shot 74 in the final round which included a late pair of birdies.

A one-under-par score of 36 on the back nine forced a playoff between him and Bowser of Oakland University. A par on the second playoff hole secured him the individual title after he and Balcar both shot par in the first round.

Cleveland State finished the day with a final round score of 309 and a total score of 906.
Oakland finished as runner-up, earning a total score of 916, followed by Wright State University with 917 and Valparaiso University with 920. Cleveland State golfers Balcar and Mitchell both earned all-tournament team honors for their strong play throughout the weekend.

The NCAA Regional tournaments will begin play on May 14 and will continue through May 16. The teams and their selection sites will be announced on the Golf Channel on Monday, May 4 at 10 a.m.
Although the team is thrilled to have won back-to-back titles, head coach Steve Weir said it is overall consistency that excites him the most.

“This is our fifth in eight years,” he said. “Back-to-back seems to be the catch phrase but I’m excited to be doing it consistently. Guys pass that on from team to team and older ones kind of lay out the plan for the younger ones.”

Weir is in his eighth season as head coach of the men’s golf team and has taken them to four NCAA Regional championships. He said he credits the consistent winning seasons to having high expectations when the team comes in at the end of the summer.

“[We have] expectations to win at the beginning of every April,” he said. “Our focus from day one, which starts at the end of August, is to win at the end of April.”

Another big factor in the team’s success is veteran leadership. Balcar, who finished in first place at the Horizon League tournament, is the lone senior on the team. He is also one of just two golfers who were on last year’s Horizon League champion team. Weir said they led by example as well as vocally.

“They kind of set the tone,” he said. “We’ve got seven guys coming back and all seven have shown they have the ability to play college golf at a high level.”

As of right now, Weir remains focused, preparing the team for NCAA tournament play which begins in late May. The lineup of golfers for the NCAA regional tournament will feature Balcar, Moore, sophomore Patrick Luth, freshman Joey Krecic and junior Paul Minko.