By Josh Brown
TROY — After Travis Bertram began the day with four straight bogeys and followed that with back-to-back double bogeys, only to finish with three straight pars, Troy boys golf coach Mark Evilsizor joked with his senior about “needing to stay on the par train instead of the bogey train.”
“I like to keep all my bases covered,” Bertram said, drawing a laugh from fellow senior and group partner Holden Scribner as the duo waited by Miami Shores’ ninth green for the rest of the team to finish.
The Trojans are at least keeping things light and remaining in high spirits despite their recent struggles.
Troy — which had possibly its worst day of the season the day before at the Firebird Invitational — bounced back with a head-to-head victory over a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rival Wednesday at Miami Shores Golf Course, holding off Sidney 172-186 to improve to 5-2 in dual play on the year.
Now, with the all-important Postseason GWOC tournament mere weeks away, though, Evilsizor would like to see those high spirits translate into low scores.
“We have a good time, and these guys like playing with each other and enjoy being around each other. But that’s got to start correlating into lower scores,” he said. “I have no problem with having fun — that’s kind of what this is all about — but at the same time, it’s much more fun to play well. Our scores have got to start getting down.”
Unfortunately for the Trojans, they’ve remained fairly high for the past two weeks.
Since shooting a 162 on Aug. 20 in a win over Chaminade Julienne, the Trojans shot a 180 in their next match on Aug. 23 — the worst nine-hole score the team has shot since 2011 — followed that with a 179 and a 166 and capped it all off by shooting a whopping 352 at the 18-hole Firebird Invitational on Tuesday, finishing 14th out of 19 teams there … as well as finishing well behind division rivals Butler and Tippecanoe.
“In three weeks, we’ll be heading off to the GWOC (on Sept. 27),” Evilsizor said. “We have goals, and our goal is to win it. But right now, we’re not in a position to do that. We have time, but it’s just a matter of these guys focusing on what needs to be improved and getting better in those areas.”
And for the Trojans, those areas of focus are a bit more specific than they’ve been thinking.
“We just talked about these guys focusing on smaller things that they need to work on,” Evilsizor said. “Not ‘I need to work on my entire game’ — that’s not really conducive to getting better. They need to focus on some of their weaknesses right now and then build on that, then it’ll catch up to the rest of their game and the scores will get progressively better.”
One thing that has been a constant for Troy, though, has been Scribner’s play.
The senior is currently averaging 38.06 per nine holes — second in the GWOC American North and fifth in the overall GWOC. And he continued to play well on Wednesday, shooting a 3-over-par 39 to claim individual medalist honors.
Ryan Dowling followed that with a 43 and Bertram, despite his streakiness and slow start, finished with a 44. Both Zac Collin and Henry Johnston shot 46 — with Collin doing so despite posting a 9 on the Par 3 hole No. 7 — and Nathan Henderson capped things off with a 47.
“Right now, our issue is we’re counting too many high scores,” Evilsizor said. “When you have to count a 46, or yesterday we had to count 95s, that’s what balloons it up. We’ve got to get to a point where there might be one throwaway round but not three — because you’ve got to count four scores.”
For Sidney, Mitchell Larger led the way with a 43, Trey Werntz shot 45, Ben Spangler shot 48 and Patrick McClain capped off the scoring with a 50. Brendan Rose added a 51 and Will Klepinger shot 53.
“We’re just not having people clicking on all cylinders right now,” Evilsizor said. “That’s something that we’ve got to get corrected — and we’ve got time to correct it.”
Of course, the Trojans know there is a time limit, too.
“Golf is a sprint to the end. It’s a pretty quick season,” Evilsizor said. “There’s not too many weeks to get this done, so it’s something we need to progress quickly.
“It’s not panic time yet. If it’s like this here in about two weeks, maybe so, but I have confidence in this group. They’re good kids and they want to do well, it’s just a matter of that correlating into scores getting better on the golf course.”
Troy travels to Reid North — the site of the Division I sectional tournament — Saturday to play in the Christoff Memorial then travels to Beechwood — the site of the Post-GWOC tournament — on Sept. 11 to face Greenville and Tri-County North in a tri-match.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.