GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Bridgewater men's golf team entered its conference championship as a sixth seed in a conference that includes three teams ranked in the top-15 nationally and two more teams ranked at least 28 spots higher than Bridgewater; but the men completed two rounds in fifth place and shot 315 on Tuesday to hold that spot.
Senior Eugene Dillon concluded his collegiate career with a remarkably steady performance in the championship, and all rounds within two strokes of each other. His 78 in the final round tied for low ball on the team and led Dillon to a tie for 25th in the field. Dillon came out with a plan of making the most of his final round, and was even par through 12 holes. He dropped three shots on the 13th hole, the signature hole that is a peninsula reaching out into the lake at Bryan Park golf course.
"EJ has been an integral part of this team over the years, and it was a pleasure working with him on his game even before I became head coach," said John Rogers. "He is a real student of the game, and we especially relied on his experience in this his final semester on the team. I know that [assistant coach] Lee Williams joins me in saying we will miss having him with us."
Junior Ronald Uszenski came in with a matching 78 after a roller coaster round that featured three birdies, two double bogeys, and a lot of scrambling. The Eagles struggled most of the week to figure out the back nine at Bryan Park, but Uszenski held on for a 38 and ended up only missing a top-18 tournament flag on a scorecard tiebreaker. He finished in a seven-way tie for 16th with a three-day total of 230.
Teammate Jason Spaar was one of the other seven players in a tie for 16th after a final round of 79. "I felt really bad for Jason at the end of the round today," said Rogers. "Because he played so steadily throughout the tournament and really throughout the spring season, and he unfortunately dropped five strokes on the holes 16 and 17 today. He was very frustrated after the tournament, but he has a lot to be proud of after his sophomore year." After the trouble on number 16 and number 17, Sparr bounced back by rolling in a 17-foot birdie putt in front of the gallery on the final hole.
Sophomore Brendan Draughn spent time on the driving range after each of the first two rounds and worked diligently to prepare for this, his first ODAC Championship. Draughn's 80 on Tuesday rounded the team score. He felt that he struck the ball better than his scores reflected and he was only 3-over through 13 holes today.
Freshman Seth Smallwood shot 84, and had a seven-hole stretch in the middle of the round where he was only 1-over par.
W&L shot an impressive final round of 282 (-6) to overtake Guilford for the championship. James Mishoe of Guilford edged Brian Peccie of W&L in a playoff after both players at finished at -2. Finishing in the fifth spot, Bridgewater finished ahead of the University of Lynchburg (who is 30 spots ahead of the Eagles in the national rankings) and also played within four shots of Randolph Macon (ranked 28 spots higher) in the final round.
"While we are not yet in a position to stick with the elite teams in our conference, I was very pleased with the effort our guys made this week." said Rogers, "I'm hoping the experience will be something to build on when we resume play in the fall. Once again, I would like to thank our seniors EJ Dillon and co-captain Michael Gruver for being great assets to our program."