By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
HEBRON, Ky. - One of the toughest things to do in sports is lead a golf tournament wire-to-wire. The Tennessee Tech men's golf team couldn't quite pull off the amazing feat at the Bearcat Invitational, but the Golden Eagles salvaged an impressive fourth place finish in the 16-team event.
Leading the way for the Tech squad was sophomore Mitch Thomas, who played by the far the best tournament of his young career. The Knoxville native blitzed the field of 80 participants for a 68-71-72=211 to finish in a tie for second place overall. Thomas found himself in first place through the first two rounds at the 7,100-yard, par-72 Traditions Golf Club, but third-round 68s from Brian Anania of Marshall (the medalist of the event) and Baxter Reeves of Cincinnati (tied with Thomas) helped to just edge the young Golden Eagle in Hebron, Ky.
The beginning of the second round actually began Monday evening after a delayed start to the event forced the participants to wait for a 10:30 a.m. CDT shotgun start. Round Two wrapped up Tuesday morning before the start of the third round of action.
With the second-place finish, Thomas became the first Golden Eagle to finish second or better at an event since Tyler Cassetty took second at the Grover Page Classic on Mar. 15, 2011. He also finished with the lowest three-round score since Cassetty dropped a 209 at the Miller Memorial Invitational on Oct. 4, 2011. Thomas earned all-tournament honors for the event as well.
Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay took home the first-place honors, beating second place Marshall by five strokes. The Gov's Anthony Bradley led the team with a fifth-place 214.
As a team, the Golden Eagles were great, shooting a 284-296-296=876 to edge OVC rival Belmont by one stroke for the fourth place finish. By taking fourth place, the Tech team grabbed its fourth top five finish in its last five tournaments dating back to last spring. Tech grabbed fifth place at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate in the opening event of this season.
Junior Lee Whitehead was steady for the Golden Eagles throughout the event, tying for 18th after carding a 69-77-75=221. Fellow junior Mason Griffin also made a top 25 finish, tying for 24th with a 75-74-73=222.
The Golden Eagles will look to thrive off the momentum from the Bearcat Invitational as the team will prepare for next Monday's APSU F&M Bank Intercollegiate. Tech will once again face off against Austin Peay, the host of the 54-hole tournament at The Links at Novadell. Play will being at 8 a.m. CDT on Oct. 14 and wrap up on Tuesday, Oct. 15.