MILWAUKEE, Wis. (naccsports.org) --- Edgewood College will serve as host for the opening weekend of the 2019-20 NACC Men's Golf Championship this Sunday and Monday at the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin, site of the 2020 Ryder Cup.
This weekend's play serves as the first two rounds of the NACC's 72-hole championship. The final 36 holes will be played in late April at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora, Illinois.
Teams will tee off beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning with pairings determined by each team's 2018 NACC Championship finish. The top three teams from last year's championship - Aurora, Edgewood and Wisconsin Lutheran - will go off in the opening flight. Concordia Wisconsin, MSOE, and Marian will follow in the second flight, while Lakeland, Benedictine, Dominican, and league newcomer St. Norbert will make up the third and final flight. The teams will be flighted with the No. 5 individual player from each school teeing off first, followed by the No. 4 player, the No. 3s, No. 2s, etc.
Pairings for the second (Monday, 10:30 a.m.) will be made according to the results from the previous day.
Aurora enters this year's championship event as two-time defending champions. Edgewood (2007, 2011, 2012, 2014) has claimed the most NACC men's golf titles with four, followed by three apiece by Aurora (2010, 2018, 2019), MSOE (2008, 2009, 2013) and Wisconsin Lutheran (2015, 2016, 2017).
2018-19 Recap: Last season, Aurora fired a championship-record 284 in the final round en route to the crown. The Spartans' 72-hole total of 1,196 also set a new championship record as they topped Edgewood by 20 strokes. Aurora's JT Hudson won medalist honors and earned the Roger Fleming Player of the Year award as he tallied a 7-over-par 295 (79-73-73-70) in the four-day championship to finish a stroke better than Edgewood's Josh Hentrich (79-69-75-73--296).
Lakeland's Bennett Braun tied for 24th place and earned him NACC Freshman of the Year honors, while Aurora's Justin Wyeth was named NACC Coach of the Year.
Top Returners: The top 10 individuals plus ties following the final round of the championship in April will earn all-conference designation. Eight of last year's All-NACC honorees are in this year's field, including the defending Roger Fleming Player of the Year (Hudson) and medalist runner-up (Hentrich) and the past three NACC Freshmen of the Year (Braun and Edgewood's Matthew Davison and Dawson Hinz). In addition to Hudson and Hentrich, Edgewood's Hinz (fourth) and Davidson (10th), Concordia Wisconsin's Nate Benjamin (fifth) and Dylan Karvala (ninth), Aurora's Noah Hogue (sixth) and MSOE's Bryce Lindsley (seventh) all return.
Fall 2019 Synopsis: Defending league champion Aurora holds the league's best scoring average at 291.8 strokes over eight varsity rounds. Included in the average is a 10-under 274 - the best round ever by a NACC school - in the Benedictine Fall Eagle Invitational on Sept. 29. Aurora posted another under-par team round with a 2-under 286 at the Elmhurst Fall Invitational on Sept. 26.
The Spartans hold a total of six of the top 12 rounds in relation to par, including the top three, followed by Edgewood with three, Concordia Wisconsin with two and Wisconsin Lutheran with one.
The Eagles, who have posted a 308.7 stroke average over nine rounds, own the next-lowest round with a 4-over-par effort in the final round of the MSOE Invitational. Concordia Wisconsin is third with a 315.3 stroke average over nine rounds with a season-best 8-over 292 to open the MSOE Invitational.
Marian (319.2), MSOE (322.2), Wisconsin Lutheran (326.7), St. Norbert (328.0), Dominican (329.3), Benedictine (331.6) and Lakeland (331.7) round out the list of team scoring averages.
Individually, Aurora's Ryan Vanderway tops the list with a 73.0 average over eight rounds, followed by Edgewood's Davidson at 73.2 over nine rounds.
Vanderway is joined by five other Spartans in the top 10 - Scott Boyajian (tie-fourth, 73.6 over eight rounds), Craig Schlegel (tie-fourth, 73.6/8 rounds), Jackson Clark (74.0/3 rounds), Hudson (74.3/8 rounds) and Hogue (74.5/8 rounds) - although Clark is not slated to compete this weekend.
Benedictine's Nate Kirberg (third, 73.5/6 rounds), Concordia Wisconsin's Andrew Otto (sixth, 73.8/4 rounds) and St. Norbert's Jack Markham (74.6/7 rounds) round out the top 10.
Vanderway matched a league record with a 6-under 65 at the Benedictine Fall Eagle Invitational to card the lowest aggregate score, while Hogue posted a 5-under 66 the same day.
Fifteen NACC golfers have posted a total of 22 rounds at or below par this fall, including eight by Aurora golfers. Edgewood has five such rounds, Benedictine four, Concordia Wisconsin three and Marian and St. Norbert one apiece. Individually, Benedictine's Nate Kirberg has a league-best three rounds below par, while Vanderway, Boyajian, Schlegel, Davidson, Hinz have two each.