In the third round of the Golfweek Conference Challenge, the Virginia Tech golf team made 11 birdies and an eagle in the final six holes to earn them second place in Iowa.
Junior Scott Vincent led the action, finishing eight-under for the day and earning co-medalist honors.
“Each of the players has an obligation to their team,” head coach Jay Hardwick said. “Your teammates see how well you’re doing and they feed off of it. Scott started doing well and everyone saw it.”
Over the final six holes of the round, something clicked in Vincent. He finished with an eagle and five birdies.
“Well it’s not one of those things that you can stick a finger on,” Vincent said. “I think it was a combination of hard work. You hope they happen — sometimes they go well, sometimes they don’t. Things started going my way and I finished with a good score.”
The Hokies finished the final round with a 10-under par 278, giving them a total tournament score of 861: three-under par. Over the first two rounds, however, things weren’t going as well for the Hokies.
In fourth place after the first two days, they trailed the leader, Oklahoma, by 18.
“We spent a lot of our time after playing at the range,” Hardwick said. “We worked on our game and it got better and better each round. Eventually it started to click. For this game you have to realize that you get out of it what you put into it. It may not happen right away, but it will click eventually.”
That extra time spent at the range paid off for the Hokies, as they were able to sneak past LSU, New Mexico and Houston in the final day of play.
“We are a last round team,” Hardwick said. “We were the same way last year and it worked for us.”
Though the team is young with only one senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, the four returning starters have all played in NCAA regionals.
“The guys knew what to expect,” Hardwick said. “There were some nerves but we are a seasoned group. They stepped up to the pressure of the last day. It was big for Scotty and gave him and the rest of the team confidence. They know how to handle the pressure if they get in position to win late in the game.”
Vincent agreed with his coach, as he described the late car ride home Tuesday night.
“(The win) definitely boosted everyone,” Vincent said. “The van ride back everyone was smiling and chatty. It made us realize that we are good and we can do great things this year. We have our expectations up there and we’re trying to accomplish as many of those as we can.”
For now though, the team will have to focus on the task in front of them: the VCU Shootout.
Last year the Hokies won the championship and they are looking forward to playing a familiar course with familiar faces.
“We’ve had success at this course in the past. We like this course, it’s familiar,” Hardwick said. “It will also be nice to have some Hokie fans. This past weekend was the first weekend in a while that we didn’t have at least one set of parents. So it will be nice to have a fan base.”