Fresh faces lead men’s golf to 12th-place finish

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor

In the team’s fall season opener, freshman Ben Lanman led the Eastern’s golf team at the Murray State Invitational as the Panthers finished ahead of five teams, the most in a tournament since 2017.

Lanman placed 20th overall with a three-round score of 216, good for +3 through 54 holes in the invitational, which finished Tuesday.

Lanman, along with fellow freshmen Keegan Gowin and Preston Smith, joined the Panthers after playing together at Charleston High School last year.

Gowin did not participate in the tournament, while Smith finished with a 238-stroke, +25 which slotted him tied for 83rd individually.

Sophomore Nick Nguyen attended Mattoon High School before his Eastern career and played against many of the new faces, and he said their talent and hard work can only help.

“Their additions make us a lot more competitive within the team to tell us ‘Hey, I gotta play well if I want to play in the tournament,’ so I think it’s great,” Nguyen said.

Senior Romeo Perez has anchored the team in years past, and he said the additions will pay off for the squad.

“They’re freshmen but are not scared to go out and compete against the other teams so it’s great, and it will benefit us,” Perez said.

Behind Lanman, Nguyen finished with a 225-stroke, +12 finish that placed him tied for 51st individually.

Despite being one of Nguyen’s best rounds as a Panther, he said there is still plenty of room to grow.

“I’d either start off bad and fight hard to make a decent score or, like my last day, I started well and didn’t finish as well as I liked, so there were for sure a lot less errors, and I think maturity is helping, but there is still work to be done,” Nguyen said.

Perez came in third for Eastern after a two-round total of 150 strokes before fading to a 79-stroke final round to close out the invitational.

Although he finished nearly on par with his 76.29 stroke average a season ago, he said he was disappointed with the performance.

“I had high expectations, and I didn’t do well,” Perez said. “I played pretty good, but my putting cost me too many strokes to post good scores. But it was the first tournament. We have three left for the fall, so I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully perform better.”

Sophomore Pierce Allord finished fourth for Eastern, who opened the second day with a 3+ 74-stroke round but finished with a 230-stroke total to tie for 67th.

Murray State took home the team crown with a combined -22, as Tennessee-Martin junior Jack Story took home the individual title with an -18 to-par score.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]