Eastern golf team finishes in 4th place

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor

Senior Romeo Perez placed second overall as the Eastern men’s golf team finished fourth, its best finish since 2016, at the Butler Don Benbow Spring Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday for the team’s first spring season tournament.

Only three golfers played a round of even-par or better at the 36-hole invitational at 6,750-yard Jacksonville Beach Golf Club, and Perez claimed one of those, as his 71-stroke day two mark gave him a 2-over-par finish for second place.

The second-place finish is Perez’ best in his time at Eastern and his first top-five finish of the 2019-2020 season, with his last top-ten finish coming at the Alabama State Spring Kickoff in 2018.

Behind Perez, sophomore Nick Nguyen rebounded after an 82-stroke round one with a 77 in round two to finish in a tie for 17th overall at 17-over-par.

Nguyen said getting back into playing form as the weather turns was a big part of the opening tournament.

“It felt awesome, especially getting out of cold Illinois and into the sunshine,” Nguyen said. “I was kind of rusty and getting my feels of golfing outside again.”

Nguyen also said the solid team finish was helpful as the team gears up for the OVC Championships.

“Our goal is to play our best rounds at conference and see what happens,” Nguyen said. “That’s what this spring season is for is to prepare for conference, and we want to play our best.”

Freshmen Ben Lanman, Preston Smith and Keegan Gowin also traveled with the team to get some spring season under their belts, with Lanman leading the way among the trio, posting two 80-stroke rounds to finish at 18-over-par and in a tie for 21st.

Smith followed closely behind in 23rd after a first-round 77 followed with an 84-stroke final round to finish at 19-over-par over two days.

Gowin managed a tie for 26th with two rounds of 82 strokes a piece for a 22-over-par finish between the two days.

The team gets a quick turnaround with another two-day stint at the Butler Spring Classic in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“We are really confident because other than Romeo, we feel like all of us didn’t have our best stuff and are looking forward to play well in the next tournament after getting one tournament down.”

The Butler Spring Classic begins today and runs through tomorrow.

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