Harris, MI – Call it the Spartan Invitational, even though Michigan State University’s men’s golf team was about seven hours away from home. The Spartans dominated the two-day Island Resort Intercollegiate this weekend, beating runner-up University of Central Florida by 23 strokes at Sage Run Golf Club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
MSU used incredible balance to dominate, with 2019 champion James Piot sharing medalist honors with teammate Troy Taylor II with a 54-hole total of 209. MSU also had three other players in the top 10 that had 13 players (including ties).
MSU’s primary all-sport rival, Michigan, finished third with 880. Middle Tennessee State and Kentucky were next at 885, followed by South Dakota State 888, Bowling Green State 911, Detroit Mercy 920, Wisconsin-Green Bay 927 and Division II Northern Michigan University 960.
The 2020 tournament was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Piot, who recently became the first Michigan native to claim the prestigious U.S. Amateur golf championship, won the 2019 tourney with a 207. Because teammates shared medalist honors, a playoff was not held. Piot said he would have wanted a playoff if a golfer from a different school had claimed a share of first place.
Piot said “I took it one shot at a time. I tried to focus on myself and not worry about Taylor, who was playing in the preceding threesome. “It is cool tying with a teammate.”
The first tournament of the fall college season was “a stress reliever if anything” after playing in the U.S. Am. “I’m looking forward to the college (golf) season,” he said, noting all his U.S. Am opponents were also college golfers.
Taylor, whose father Troy Taylor played basketball at Ohio State University, maintained “a good mind-set” in the final round played under balmy conditions with a slight wind.
“I gave myself opportunities,” Taylor said, noting assistant coach Dan Ellis informed him on the 10th fairway that he was in contention with Piot. “It was weird, but I had a blast playing against my teammate. I just wanted the team to do well. I enjoyed being in the hunt of things. I knew I had to play good golf because he is the national (amateur) champion.”
Taylor bogied No. 15 with a three-putt, then had “a clutch birdie” on the 139-yard 17th hole. Piot settled for a par on No. 17, then the teammates parred the 589-yard 18th, with Taylor pushing his tee shot into the rough.
Hugo Archer of Kentucky shared third place with UCF’s Clement Charmasson at 213. Matthew Schaffer of South Dakota State was fourth at 216, followed by MSU’s August Meekhof at 217. Jacob Cook of Kentucky, Bradley Smithson of MSU and Will Anderson of Michigan all finished at 218, and UCF’s Luis Carrera, MSU’s Ashton McCullogh, Kevin Jegers of Middle Tennessee State and Liam Georgiadis of South Dakota State shared 10th at 219.
This was South Dakota State’s first event without seven-year coach Casey VanDamme, who recently was named women’s golf coach at Kent State. This tournament was started in 2019 by VanDamme, a native of nearby Perkins, Mich.
Succeeding VanDamme at South Dakota State on an interim basis is Mike Nagy, a native of Manistique who was one of VanDamme’s first recruits when he was an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee. Nagy has spent the past four years on the professional Korn Ferry Tour, as well as the PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latin America.
*Story by DENNIS GRALL, Retired Sports Editor of the Escanaba Daily Press and member of the Michigan Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
For final results click on the link below:
For more information on the Island Resort Intercollegiate at Sage Run, visit islandresortgolf.com/island-resort-intercollegiate