What a season it’s been for the Lawrence University Men’s Golf team. They went through the fall season looking sharp as ever. They started the Northern Division Tournament with a 59- shot lead after two rounds. Then, they find out they have to withdraw from the rest of the Northern Division Championship events, except their own tournament, because of NCAA regulations.
This hasn’t stopped the Vikings from being the favorite going into this weekend’s MWC Championships at Aldeen Golf Course in Rockford, Illinois.
The Vikings have demolished MWC competition so far this season. The Vikings won the first round of the Northern Division on the MWC by 28 strokes over eventual Northern Division champion Beloit. In the second round, it was a 31-stroke win.
In the Lawrence University Invite, the only tournament that the Vikings were allowed to play besides the conference tournament, they crushed the competition again. This time it was 33 strokes over St. Norbert.
The Vikings had to drop out of the third and fifth rounds of the Northern Division Championships to avoid breaking an NCAA regulation. According to Joe Vanden Acker, the Lawrence University sports information director, if a golf team plays both fall and spring seasons, it’s only allowed to play so many days.
If the Vikings had played in those two tournaments, they would have exceeded the limit, and would have been ineligible to play. The Vikings may not have been able to compete in the Midwest Conference Championship Tournament.
The Vikings are coming off their best finish in the MWC in over 20 years last season. They finished three shots behind Monmouth in a tournament shortened to one round by rain.
The Vikings are this year’s favorite, and it’s because of the play of several freshmen.
Andy Link and Joe Loehnis have led the Viking Golf team all season.
Link, out of Rochester, Minn., has had an impressive amateur golf career in Minnesota. He came on to this Viking team and immediately contributed. Link shot a one over 73 to win the Lawrence University Invitational last weekend, and is one of the favorites to win an individual MWC title this weekend.
Loehnis is another freshman who has made an immediate impact. Loehnis is from Appleton, and he has also taken medallist honors at a tournament this season. He won the second round of the MWC Northern Division tournament with a four over 74. Loehnis is another favorite this weekend to win.
The Vikings have last year’s individual champion, Jeff Henderson, returning as well. Henderson tied for the MWC title last season, and is looking to win it outright this year. Henderson has also played very well this season, winning the first round of the MWC Northern Division Championship with a one over 74. Henderson has shot some high numbers this season, but he had the potential to go under par if the conditions are right.
The Vikings are the team to beat. They have posted the lowest scores in the MWC. If the Vikings play to their potential, there is no reason they won’t bring back their first MWC Golf team title since 1949.