JORDAN, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is set to host its first championship of the new year this weekend, as the 2017 Men's Golf Championships tee off Saturday morning.
Ten MIAC teams will compete in the three-day, 54-hole Conference tournament, which will call a new course home this year. Saint John's University will play host this year from The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, Minn.
The action will begin Saturday morning, with the first wave of golfers set to tee off at 11:00 a.m. Teams are seeded based on their finish in last year's Championships and golfers will tee off in descending order of their place in the lineup (No. 5 to No. 1). The top-three seeded teams (Saint John's, Gustavus, Bethel) will tee off in Group 1, followed by seeds 4-6 (St. Thomas, Concordia, Augsburg) at 11:40 a.m. and seeds 7-10 (Carleton, St. Olaf, Saint Mary's, Macalester) at 12:20 p.m.
Sunday pairings will be ordered according to first day scores and teams will reorder their golfers according to Day One results, with the highest score playing in the No. 5 spot and the lowest at No. 1. Day Two tee times begin at 10 a.m. Monday will follow in similar fashion, beginning at 9 a.m. Each school enters five players, with the four best performances each day determining the team score.
The team that comes away with the lowest score over the course of the weekend will receive the MIAC's automatic qualifier to the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship.
Day One pairings and tee times can be found here.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
There are numerous ways fans who are not traveling to Jordan can follow all the action throughout the tournament. The MIAC will once again offer enhanced (unofficial) live scoring and hole-by-hole updates through Golfstat's live scoring system. Fans will easily be able to track team and individual progress throughout all three rounds.
The MIAC has a championship home page for the event, that will serve as the online home of the tournament. The championship page will include tee times, pairings and results as they become available, as well as recaps, photos and more.
IN THE POLLS
Saint John's is ranked 17th in the nation in the latest Golf Coaches' Association of America (GCAA) Division III Bushnell Golfweek Coaches' Poll. Three more MIAC programs are receiving votes in the latest poll update, with Gustavus Adolphus, St. Thomas and Augsburg just missing the Top 25 cut.
TIDBITS FROM THE TEEBOX
A few MIAC storylines and golfers to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.
Back for More: The 2017 field of competitors features five returning golfers who placed in the top-10 at last year's MIAC Championships, including: Sam Olson, Saint John's (1st); Chris Captain, Gustavus (T-3rd); Noah Bragg, Bethel (T5); Riley Gannon, St. Thomas (8th); Ben Hauge, Gustavus (T-9th).
Sam the Man: Sam Olson helped propel Saint John's to a team victory at last season's MIAC Championship by claiming individual honors with a tournament low one-under-par 215. Olson – who finished tied for 16th in the nation at the 2017 NCAA Division III Championship in May – will defend his Conference crown this weekend in an attempt to repeat as the top individual finisher for the second year in a row.
Sophomore Sensation: Augsburg sophomore Harrison Cooper shot a second-round 65 to lead the Auggies to the team title at this year's Augsburg Fall Invitational. The performance tied Tony Vanyo for the lowest single-round score in modern Augsburg history and was one stroke shy of the best single-round score in MIAC men's golf history, a 64 shot by St. Thomas' Mark Hadley in 2005.
Not to Bragg: Bethel's Noah Bragg leads all MIAC golfers with a 73.0 average in his six rounds of golf on the year. His best outing came in the first tournament of the year when he logged a five-under-par 139 (69 | 70) for a second-place finish at the Augsburg Fall Invitational.
Experience at the Top: Gustavus doesn't just return three of its five golfers from last year's Championship roster; the Gusties return three golfers who each finished among the top 11 scorers in the entire tournament last year with Chris Captain tying for third, Ben Hauge tying for ninth and Alec Aunan tying for 11th.
Team Effort: In three tournaments this fall, four different Tommies have shared or posted the team's low score and seven different players have posted individual rounds of 72 or better.
The Brothers Kahlbaugh: Blake Kahlbaugh has led the Cobbers in two consecutive tournaments heading into the MIAC Championships. He and his brother, Nathaniel Kahlbaugh, lead Concordia with 78.6 and 78.8 averages on the year, respectively.