Men’s golf team sets sights on Beu Mussatto Invitational

Jacob VanZuiden, Courier Staff

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As the season inches closer to its end, the Western Illinois men’s golf team have hit their stride at the most crucial point of the season. After displaying utter dominance in their last meet, Western will return to a much more familiar venue for the 47th annual Beu Mussatto Invitational beginning on Monday. The event will take place at none other than Macomb’s Harry Mussatto Golf Course, marking the first and only time this spring that the team will be awarded the luxury of playing on their own turf.

Their last journey to Cedar Falls, Iowa was a performance these men won’t forget anytime soon. The Leathernecks’ across-the-board production led them to a first-place finish in the UNI Invitational. More importantly, this went down in the books as the team’s first top-place finish of the 2019 spring season. As he has many times before, senior Jackson Wetherbee was the driving force for his squad. Named as a Summit League Golfer to Watch over the winter, Wetherbee paced the Necks with two-round score of 146 (+2). Just as impressive was junior Kyle Irlbacker, who, after shooting a 73 in day-two, finished with a 146 total in turn. Behind those two, but not far behind, were freshman Cameron Karney and sophomore Wyatt Spier who scored 148 (+4) and 150 (+6). The tail-end of their lineup was rounded out by freshman Parker Govern with a 151 (+7), respectively.

After an 11th place finish last year in their own event, the Purple and Gold will look to better that mark by a wide margin. This year, WIU will feature a “Purple” and “Gold” lineup in their home tournament, something we’ve seen them do earlier in the spring. Their two-headed squad approach will aim to best a stiff field of competition. Competing alongside Western in the two-day event will be: Kirkwood Community College, Indian Hills Community College, Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Northern Iowa, North Dakota, Iowa Western Community College and Saint Francis (Illinois). After a memorable performance in the meet last season, Indian Hills CC will do everything in their power to finish on top once again as the defending Beu Mussatto Invitational champions. However, the Leathernecks will surely have something else in mind as they fight for back-to-back first-place finishes as the season draws near its end. Interim head coach Lia Biehl Lukkarinen claims she is just excited to be back home and invites fans to come out and cheer her team on.

“We are excited to host and showcase our facility including the Chown Golf Learning Center,” said Lukkarinen. “We have an exceptional group of players that will provide the galleries some fantastic golf. Friends and fans are invited to come watch on Monday and Tuesday.”

Western will surely have their hands full, both in their upcoming competition and what is to follow. While making a statement in the Beu Mussatto Invitational remains the important task at hand, the Purple and Gold will need to quickly gear their focus toward the upcoming Summit League Championships on April 28. The team will travel to Newton, Kan. to battle in the final event of the year. Only time will tell if their year-long preparation pays off.

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