Regular season tournaments ended Tuesday for the SIU men’s golf team after it received top-place finishes at Tennessee State’s fifth annual Big Blue Intercollegiate in Old Hickory, Tenn.
With 10 teams and 63 players, the Salukis tied for second place overall with Tennessee Tech. SIU was led by juniors Jake Erickson and Jeffrey Miller.
Erickson was named Missouri Valley Golfer of the Week and was one of seven players to record an eagle. He finished in the top five out of 63 players, with 210 points.
Miller shot a final-round 69 and finished in fifth place individually. The duo led the Salukis to a three-round score of 862 points, which is the second-best score of the year and ninth best in SIU history. Erickson currently has four career rounds ranging in the 60s, and Miller has three.
In practice and competition, Miller said a strong support system is what helps each individual on the team play well. He said team support can impact player’s outcome, just like in the tournament.
“We’re all pretty encouraging to one another,” Miller said. “We’re all pretty talented players on the team, and everyone strives to get better.”
Erickson, who is team captain, said everything he has done and received during his golfing career at SIU is because of his relationships with his teammates.
“I’ve learned a lot from seniors before me and my teammates now,” Erickson said. “Through them, my game has progressed, and I try to give back to the team by playing the best I can.”
Erickson said the team did a good job overall in the tourney, and he said now is the time for the men’s golf team to bring its “A” game in the MVC Championships.
The Salukis scored 294, 286 and 282 in three rounds of golf. They came from 11 strokes behind in the final round to tie with Tennessee Tech for second place. According to the Saluki scouting reports, Erickson’s season scoring average after the tournmanet improved to 73.6 and placed him fourth in school history. He now has the lowest season scoring average since alumnus Brian Norman recorded a 72.7 average in 2003 to 2004.
Coach Leroy Newton said he’s continuously seen improvements in Erickson’s game in both practice and competition. He said Erickson’s leadership skills and work ethic are well exemplified and influence his teammates.
“Jake has really improved his game, and he is doing really well for the team right now,” Newton said. “He works really hard at (his game) and he’s only going to get better.”
Now that men’s golf is a few weeks away from MVC Championships, Newton said the team would use the rest of its time to get more prepared for conference championships.
“Now we’ll go back (to practice) and put in a couple good weeks of practice together for Prairie Dunes,” Newton said.
The Salukis will continue in action April 30 and May 1 in the MVC Championship match ups in Hutchinson, Kan.