State College, Pa. - Colin Hoy (Harleysville, Pa.) and Jeremy Harper (Mountain Top, Pa.) carded rounds in the 70's to help the Hazleton Nittany Lions capture the PSUAC Invitational at the Penn State Blue Course on Monday afternoon. Teams were greeted by plenty of sunshine in State College on Monday and high winds drove up scores across the board but Hazleton turned in three of the top six individual scores on the day, leading to a comfortable win by 21 strokes over Penn State York and the rest of the PSUAC.
It was a tale of two nines for Jeremy Harper who slipped up early on Monday but a flurry of birdies on the back nine saved the round for the reigning PSUAC individual champion. After back to back bogies on holes four and five, Harper took an uncharacteristic double at the par four seventh hole, airmailing his approach shot over the green that led to a six on the card. Harper finished the front side with a 40 and followed with two bogeys after the turn but continued to grind away with rest of the field struggling on the golf course. Harper stuck the green on the par three, 14th hole and drained a 10 footer for birdie and pulled a rabbit out of the hat on at 16 where punched out from the left rough on a blind shot that gave Harper another great look at a birdie. Harper would make the three at 16 and followed up with his third birdie of the day at the par three 17th. A miss from short range on 18 spoiled a fine back round effort but the junior finished the back nine at even par for a 76 and a second place individual finish.
Colin Hoy was streaky all day and battled through adversity for a fifth place finish. Hoy began the day with a birdie on the par five 18th hole and proceeded to par his next three holes as he began his front nine. As many other did on the front side of the Blue Course, Hoy found himself on the bogey train from holes four through eight, including a double at the sixth hole. Hoy would right the ship with five straight pars starting at the ninth hole but lost momentum as he neared the end of his round. After three straight bogies on holes 14 through 16, Hoy came to his final hole, the par three 17th. Hitting directly into the wind, Hoy clubbed up and tossed a dart that landed just past pin high, took two hops and backed up to roughly three feet from the hole. Hoy went on to sink the birdie and card a seven over par round, 79.
Backing up Hoy and Harper's effort was second year player, Will Long (Honesdale, Pa.). Like many others, Long struggled on the narrow front nine at the Blue Course but a chip-in birdie at the 10th sparked a terrific back nine. Long continued plug along and struck for his second birdie of the day at the par four 15th. There Long's approach shot came up 30 feet short of the pin but a perfectly read, well paced putt found the bottom of the cup moments later to help erase some of the early miscues. Long played his final seven holes at plus one and despite a 44 on the the front side, his 37 on the back allowed Long to finish behind Hoy in sixth place with an 81.
With three scores in, the Lions needed just one more solid effort to seal up the win. They got three. Even with some big numbers on the card, Joey Rebarchick (Hazle Township, Pa.) and Kolton Weaver (Bloomsburg, Pa.) kept a level head and ground out enough pars to get Hazleton a fourth score under 90. Weaver notched nine pars on the day for an 89 while Rebarchick carded five pars and a birdie at the 18th to match Weaver with an 89. Coming in just behind the duo was David Simons (Freehold, Nj.) with a final score of 90. Simons was the exception to the rule on Monday, struggling on the back nine, while going just five over par on the front side for a 41. In each case, Rebarchick, Weaver and Simons gave Hazleton plenty of cushion as the rest of the field unsuccessfully tried to cope with the winds.
Landing in second place at the PSUAC Invitational was Penn State York who totaled a team score of 346. York's Logan Snyder turned in Monday's top round ahead of Harper, shooting a one over par round of 73 and continues to be this season's front runner individually. Matching York with a score of 346 and a tie for second place was Penn State Brandywine while Penn State Wilkes-Barre and Fayette rounded out the top five with scores of 352 and 369 respectively.
Next up: Hazleton travels to Springfield Country Club in Swathmore, Pa. on Thursday for the Penn State Brandywine Invitational and will look to keep the momentum going as they pursue the coveted conference championship.