Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Sophomore Kristian Tannum Donaldson led Golf to a fifth-place finish in a record-breaking opening two rounds at the UNCG Martin Downs Collegiate tournament Feb. 10-12 in Palm City, Florida.
The Rams finished fifth out of 13 teams, finishing with a total score of 5-over. VCU carded rounds of 295-281-293 for a final score of 869.
Tannum Donaldson broke a school record for the lowest score after two rounds at 10-under. He shot two consecutive rounds of 67 on the tournament’s first two days, launching himself up the leaderboard to the top spot.
Coach Matt Ball said that Tannum Donaldson drove the ball well which made up for his “average” short game, which is normally where he excels.
“Those were, like, the worst scores he was going to shoot, actually,” Ball said. “He hit 35 out of 36 greens in regulation, which is very difficult to do and really not that far from the hole.”
Tannum Donaldson led the Rams in the first round recording a 5-under round. He birdied three holes on the front nine — the second, third and ninth holes. On the back nine, he birdied four holes — 10th, 13th, 17th and 18th — and bogeyed one.
The second round was no different for Tannum Donaldson as he logged another 67, this time bogey-free. He birdied the third, fifth, seventh, ninth and 17th holes, en route to a second consecutive five-under par round.
Tannum Donaldson entered the final round with the 36-hole lead, ahead by three shots. He has not held a lead recently, because the sophomore has only played in three tournaments for the last 11 months due to a back injury.
“A lot of it was just not being familiar with being in the situation like normal,” Ball said. “He would admit in a few places he didn’t handle it as well. In golf, you have a tendency to get too quick with your golf swing, and he hit some stray shots that he definitely didn’t hit in the [previous] two days.”
The final round was a different story for the Buckinghamshire, England native as he carded a round of 74. Tannum Donaldson dropped a shot on the opening hole but birdied the next three in a row. He then bogeyed the final two holes on the front nine and double bogeyed the 10th hole.
Tannum Donaldson finished the tournament at 8-under in second place, one shot behind the tournament champion.
Freshman Ian Peng finished the tournament 1-over as he carded rounds of 74-71-72, finishing tied for 17. Freshman Cam Barackman finished tied for 28th as he logged rounds of 77-72-71 en route to a 4-over finish.
Freshman Adrian Vagberg carded rounds of 77-71-77 as he finished tied for 43rd at 9-over. Sophomore Sachin Kumar rounded out the Rams’ starting five as he finished tied for 60th at 16-over after rounds of 79-77-76.
“I’ve been curious to find out really where we are,” Ball said. “We are definitely a better team with [Tannum Donaldson] in the lineup, so we really didn’t know who the starting five would be on a regular basis. We started three freshman and two sophomores and probably that same group will start for the next tournament.”
Freshman Clifford Foster and junior Alston Newsome both competed as individuals outside of the Rams’ starting five. Foster recorded a score of 6-over, tying for 36th. Newsome finished the tournament tied for 71st with a score of 20-over.
Tannum Donaldson recorded the most birdies in the tournament with 16 over the three days.
“I’ll be able to remind them how well [they] closed out rounds, especially on a good solid difficult [back] nine like that was,” Ball said. “It’s a really good young group of guys and I’m excited about growing with them.”
Golf will be back on the course March 4-5 at the Fort Lauderdale Intercollegiate.