The Baylor Bears have been knocking on the doorstep for quite some time now.
And now, some elite company is going to have to let them in.
The Baylor Bears became the fifth NCCGA National Champion on Sunday, claiming an 18-stroke victory over runner-up National University.
The national runner-up at the NCCGA Fall 2013 Nationals, Baylor began the season and the weekend poised to make a run at the top spot for the first time. It wasn’t until after Sunday’s round, one in which the Bears battled through a tougher Ballyowen course on Sunday — no rain fell, but higher winds and colder temperature did no the field no favors — until they could raise the trophy high.
Club President Matt Brugner said the conditions actually played to his squad’s advantage in Sunday’s final round.
“I thought it set up a lot better for our guys,” Brugner said. “We play courses like this in Texas where the wind is blowing a lot, but there is not too much trouble off the tee. So we were confident, we knew we were in a good position yesterday only being a few shots back playing the harder course. So we just wanted to come out and have some fun, make some birdies and give it a chance. You never know what is going to happen but if everyone just played their game, I knew we would have a good shot at it.”
Baylor received its lowest single-round score of the tournament on Sunday from Dave Pytel. His 73 (+1) at Ballyowen was a microcosm of the entire team’s Sunday push back to the top of the leaderboard.
“I struck the ball well and I was six over at one point, but made four or five birdies coming down the stretch,” Pytel said. “So I finished well, made a 20 or 30-footer to finish the round off. I felt really good about it. The wind and the cold were a little bit of a struggle at first, but I was able to overcome it and post up a good number."
Both Brugner and Pytel said experiencing Nationals and coming so close to a first-place finish last time drove them to prepare and do things right this time around.
“We worked really hard in the past month or so getting everybody excited, but staying calm about it,” Brugner said. “Then just making a really good trip of it. Coming up early, getting a practice round in and taking our time to play well.
“We had a big advantage on being in Texas and practicing in the warm weather, and just getting out in January for tryouts. We added a few key players after losing a couple key players as well, so we knew our goal was to win this year.”
SHORT TAKES HOME MEDALIST HONORS
The NCCGA crowned a new individual college golf champion on Sunday too, after West Virginia’s Mason Short shot a 74-72 combo to finish +3. Short followed a 72 on Saturday at Ballyowen with a 74 in tough conditions at Wild Turkey.