Hannah R. Miller, Senior Staff Writer

At the Kepler Intercollegiate Tournament, the final tournament before the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships, the Miami University men’s golf team had trouble keeping their scores down. With rainy conditions and a lengthy weather delay, Miami finished in eighth place, shooting a 46-over par. The University of Illinois and Kent State University tied for first out of the 11-team field, shooting an overall 5-over par. In the three round tournament, the ‘Hawks had team scores of 307, 298 and 293, showing improvement each day but not gaining enough ground to stay in contention.

Head Coach Casey Lubahn noted some positive aspects from the weekend.

“We played better than our scores indicated,” Lubahn said. “We struggled to finish some rounds and kind of had multiple guys play poorly on the same day, but we’re excited about the way we’re starting to strike it.”

Senior Nathan Sutherland was the top finisher for the Red and White, tying for 14th at 6-over par. Sutherland was consistent in his play, shooting 73s in each of the three rounds. He is optimistic that with increased consistency his team will be in contention in their final tournament.

“Everyone played okay and had potential in their rounds but didn’t finish well or had a bad stretch somewhere,” Sutherland said. “We’re playing okay but we need to play a full 18 holes. We didn’t do that every round which is why we ended up where we did.”

Sophomore Brett Tomfohrde finished at 14-over par, tying for 37th place. Freshman Austin Kelly tied for 39th place at 15-over par and sophomore Ben Peacock tied for 42nd at 16-over par. The final golfer for Miami was senior Michael Drobnick finishing in 51st at 18-over par.

In order to compete in the MAC Championships, Lubahn knows what the team’s focus needs to be.

“We have to stick to the things we’re good at and play the shots we’re comfortable with,” Lubahn said. “We need to focus on leaving it all on the course, battling as hard as possible, not worrying about expectations or consequences, and playing with deep down passion and determination.”

Preparing for his final tournament as a ‘Hawk, Sutherland agrees with Lubahn about leaving it all on the course.

“We have nothing to lose so if we have that mentality every day out there and play with that, it will be easier to shoot full rounds,” Sutherland said. “I know we’re capable of doing that and I think we believe that it’s possible. And we have to stay relaxed, that will help us.”

The RedHawks will battle for their 13th conference title as they host the 2011 MAC Tournament at TPC River’s Bend starting April 29. There will be two rounds Friday followed by a single round both Saturday and Sunday.