Men’s Golf | Sep 13
VERONA, Wis. – Sophomore Ben Sluzas (Lockport, Ill./Lockport) of the Northern Illinois University golf team tied for first place at the rain-shortened Badger Invitational on Tuesday, hosted by Wisconsin at University Ridge Golf Course. The Huskies as a team finished in 12th place in its season-opening tournament, which featured a field with some of the top teams in the country.
Sunday’s rains washed out the first round of the tournament, making it a 36-hole event. Sluzas was tied for eighth after Monday’s round, where he carded a three-under par 69. He was one-over par through his first eight holes, then birdied four of the last 10. On Tuesday, Sluzas moved up to the top of the Leaderboard with a bogey-free round of six-under par 66.
“My iron game was really good and found some good spots on the greens,” said Sluzas about his final round Tuesday. “I hit some really good shots that helped avoid some of the tough spots around the greens. To start the year this way is a huge confidence boost and definitely something I’m going to take into the rest of the season.”
It was Sluzas’ lowest round of his NIU career, besting a round of 67 at last season’s Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate. Sluzas had the clubhouse lead at nine-under par before Texas A&M’s William Paysse birdied his final hole to tie for first place. This is Sluzas’ first collegiate win and NIU’s second individual title in as many seasons.
“This week’s performance at University Ridge by Ben certainly showed what we saw in him as one of the top junior golfers in the nation, and he’s continually getting better,” head coach John Carlson said. “He was able to control his golf ball into the greens, drove the ball well, and putted extremely well from inside six feet. To have an individual champion in the quality of field that we faced this week says a lot about Ben and his character , his talent and just where he will help lead our team this year.”
Fifth-year senior Tommy Dunsire (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) finished the tournament tied for 12th at four-under par. Dunsire shot an even-par 72 on Monday and followed that up with a 68 Tuesday. He was five-under par for the final round after an eagle at the par-five second hole and still managed to move up 12 places on the leaderboard.
“Tommy has made the most improvement from last year to this year,” Carlson added. “He had a really strong summer and backed it up over these 36 holes this week. His 68 today with the hole locations being tucked, he led our team along with Ben and why we were in the mix with Ole Miss, Purdue and South Carolina , teams that are perennially vying for NCAA Championship bids.”
NIU was six-over par as a team in Monday’s first round with a team score of 294. The Huskies improved by 12 strokes on Tuesday with a team score of six-under par 282. Freshman Ian Bruchhauser (Temecula, Calif./Great Oak ) helped lead the charge in the final round, joining Dunsire with a four-stroke improvement on Tuesday. After carding a four-over 76 on Monday, the freshman shot an even-par round of 72 with an eagle. He finished tied for 53rd at four-over par. Luc Warnock (Windsor, Ontario, Canada/EJ Lajeunesse) was also in the scoring group for both days, carding a 76 on Tuesday after a 77 on Monday.
The Huskies finished the tournament at even par in 12th place, three strokes behind Purdue who finished fifth and five shots back of fourth-place Nebraska. Texas A&M won the tournament with the host Badgers second.
“I don’t look at a 12th place finish this week as just as 12th place finish,” said Carlson. “When you’re three shots out of fifth place over the course of two days against some of the best teams in the country, that’s experience our guys can build upon. We’re going to face fields like this every week.”
NIU is next in action Sept. 23-24 at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate hosted by New Mexico.