A trio of athletes will be looking to end their National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics careers in the best way possible when the University Of Victoria Vikes men’s golf team travels to Silvis, Ill. for the national championship tournament taking place May 15-18.
Mike Griffin, Lawren Rowe and Bruce Tomie are all fourth-years that have formed a solid core for a Vikes team that has performed extremely well year in and year out. All three of these athletes were contributors to the Vikes right from their rookie season and have led the team to ten tournament victories over their four seasons with the program.
“I think these three guys will be particularly motivated at Deere Run,” said Vikes head coach Justin Clews. “All three of them have made key contributions to our program over the past few years and I’m excited to see what can happen this week.”
The Vikes, who were ranked No. 12 in the last NAIA Coaches’ Top-25 Poll of the year, will get their tournament started on May 15 at 6:20 a.m. PDT and are in a grouping with two other strong teams. Dalton State who ranked second and Texas Wesleyan who finished the season No. 6.
Momentum should be swinging the way of the Vikes as they enter the tournament. Strong play saw the team tie with Our Lady of the Lake University after three rounds of play at the A.I.I. Regional Championship two weeks ago. While Our Lady of the Lake captured the tournament title in a playoff hole, the level of consistency shown by the Vikes was encouraging as the team tries to win the program’s first NAIA National Championship title.
As a team the Vikes have finished outside the top-three at just two of the eight tournaments they have attended this season. A record that also includes two tournament victories.
Individually Griffin and Rowe have led the charge for the Vikes and both athletes were rewarded for their efforts by being named semifinalists for the NAIA National Player of the Year Award. Griffin has three top-10 finishes on the season and has come runner-up in the last two tournaments the Vikes have competed in. Rowe meanwhile, has finished top-10 in seven of eight tournaments this season.
Josh Miller slots in the third spot for the team and has been consistent this year, placing in the top-15 at five tournaments. Tomie is the lone Vike to have captured an individual victory this season and has done so twice, at both the Vikes Shootout and the Desert Intercollegiate.
Rounding out the travelling roster is second-year Vike Jacob Hayes, who has finished 31st or better in every tournament he has competed in this season.
About the Event
Taking place at the prestigious TPC Deere Run, the tournament will unfold on a course that annually hosts a PGA Tour Event, the John Deere Classic.
“The course demands a lot of shot shaping and is score-able if you put it in position off the tee,” said Clews. “That will key for us, if the guys don’t make mistakes off the tee, we will be in good shape. Lawren, Mike, and Josh all have experience in playing this course and should have a plan already set in how they will want to attack the course.”
This season marks a return to Nationals for the Vikes, who failed to qualify as a team last year. In total the program has made it to the National Championship in ten of the last 13 years, with their best-ever finish being fourth-place in 2011.
Justin Clews, Vikes head coach
“This tournament consists of the strongest field we will play in this season. We can’t worry about other players and teams. We need to focus on the areas we need to improve on as we approach this event and put a solid game plan in place to be in contention come Friday.”
“I’m confident they will prepare themselves well for this event and if they get the putter going, they will finish very well.”