Cape Girardeau, Mo. – The Wichita State University men’s golf team captured its sixth-straight Missouri Valley Conference Championship with a record-setting 32-stroke victory at Dalhousie Country Club. Rafael Becker took the individual title with a 6-under 210 (74-68-68), four strokes ahead of teammate Hunter Sparks.
The Shockers’ margin of victory was easily the largest since the conference tournament went to a 54-hole format in 1990. Tulsa’s 26-stroke victory in a rain-shorted tournament in 1995 was the previous high. The Shockers carded a 3-under 858 to cruise past second place Illinois State (890) and third place Southern Illinois (896) to record the 18th Valley Championship in school history.
Weather conditions were ideal at the par-72, 7,175-yard course, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 70’s with sunny skies and a breeze at 5-10 mph.
Becker, the 2012 MVC Golfer of the Year, took charge with three-straight birdies on holes 7-9. He was 2-over in the first round but followed with a 4-under 68 in the second round on Monday to move into position to take over the top spot. He pulled ahead of sophomore teammate Louis Cohen Boyer when the younger Shocker bogeyed Hole 9.
Boyer carded a 3-under 69 in the opening round and followed with an even-par effort in the second round to own the lead entering Tuesday’s competition. He tied for seventh at last year’s MVC Championship and settled for a third place tie this year with a 1-over 217 (69-72-76).
Hunter Sparks also gave chase at the title and before taking second place. Sparks, last year’s medalist, became Becker’s primary challenger and was the only other player in the field to score under par for the tournament. He checked in at 1-under on Tuesday to take sole possession of second place with a 2-under 214 (72-71-71).
Junior Calvin Pearson, who tied for fifth last year, carded a 1-over 217 (73-70-74) to tie for third with Boyer.
Senior Tyler Gann eagled 18 to break into the top 20, finishing with a 6-over 228 (75-75-78), good for a 17th place tie.
Drake’s Devin Leland was the only non-Shocker to crack the top 5 as he tied with Boyer and Pearson for third.
The top four spots in the individual race belonged to Shocker golfers entering Tuesday’s championship round and all were within two strokes of each other. The team held a 24-stroke lead heading into the final 18 holes.
Wichita State advances to the NCAA Tournament for 20th time in school history, including the 11th time since 1999. The Shockers will be looking to advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2004.
The NCAA Selection Show will be held Monday, May 6th at 9 p.m. and will be carried live on NCAA.com.