Austin Root delivers for Spalding

Winning takes the sting out of cold temperatures.

Several weeks ago former Williamstown golfer Austin Root and his teammates from Spalding University (Louisville, Ky.) set a handful of records while capturing its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Golf Championship.

Temperatures ranged anywhere from 40 to 50 degrees for the two-day event at Forest Park Golf Course in St. Louis, Mo. In a photo which appears on the school’s athletic website, team members are all smiles while bundled in sweaters and toboggans as they display their awards.

Taking the four best individual scores for 54 holes, Spalding broke the SLIAC tournament record after shooting a 14-over par 854. The Golden Eagles’ turned in 18-hole rounds of 278, 291 and 285. On only one other occasion in SLIAC tournament history had one school recorded three sub-300 rounds.

“It was cold and rainy, but it was a lot easier handling the weather when you were winning,” Root said.

Each day consisted of 27 holes and at the halfway point, Root led the field at even par. Despite a few hiccups on the second day, the freshman placed fourth overall with scores of 70-76-71 for a 217.

“On the first day, I was hitting greens and two-putting – the greens weren’t in very good shape,” Root said. “I played laid back, but was aggressive on the par 5s.

“On the second day, I made six bogeys. I never really got into trouble. I just started missing short putts.”

In the chase for medalist honors, Spalding occupied spots one through four – the first time that has happened by one school in the SLIAC since 1998.

Leading the pack was SLIAC Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year Anthony Irwin at 211, followed by Andrew Pleasant at 212, Cody Sheeley at 215 and Root’s 217.

Of the seven schools in the field, Webster University finished a distant second at 891. Fontbonne was third at 928.

“On the drive back to school, a lot of guys just talked about how the week went – we were pretty pumped up,” Root said. “It’s just awesome to be involved in something like that.”

As a result of their conference title, Spalding advances to the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship on May 14-17 at Sandestin Golf and Beach resort in Destin, Fla.

“There will be some pretty good schools,” Root said. “We are just trying to make the cut.”

As far as traveling by plane for the first time, Root is a bit leery.

“I’m not looking forward to it,” he said.

Root just joined the Spalding golf team for the spring semester. The Golden Eagles are under the guidance of first-year coach Cory Kaufman, who was named the SLIAC Coach of the Year.

“The golf coach has definitely helped me out with my putting and keeping a clear head,” Root said. “He doesn’t let me get ahead of myself.

“College golf is a bit different. If you make mistakes, there are not a bunch of birdie holes to make up for it.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com