Columbus State golfer Robert Mize is missing his shots a little better, and that’s made a difference in his game down the stretch.
Now, as he and the Cougars begin play on Monday at the NCAA Division-II Championship in Hershey, Penn., the Brookstone School product hopes it will continue.
It sounds odd to discuss how well a player makes mistakes, but Mize stressed its importance in his improved game on the course.
“You’re only as good as your misses,” said Mize, son of former Masters champion, Larry Mize. “In golf, 95 percent of the time, you don’t have your A-game. You’re rarely clicking with everything, but day in and day out you just have to get it around and in the hole.”
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That has been effective of late for the redshirt freshman, who transferred into Columbus State from Furman University before this season. He has the third best stroke average on the team at 74.3 and was the team’s top finisher at the regional competition, firing a three-round score of 6-over par.
Coach Mark Immelman said that Mize’s play over the latter part of the season is what really pushed his team over the top and into the final competition.
“He’s really been the guy,” Immelman said. “He kept us afloat for awhile, and we’ve really relied on him to shoot some good rounds for us, and he has.”
Immelman said he was lucky because he had a handful of golfers whose stroke averages were all in the same neighborhood. Mize has the third-best average on the team, but is more than capable of firing the lowest rounds as he did overall and in the first two rounds of the regional.
The same can be said for the other golfers, Jesse Gibson, Yannick Gumowski, Bryan Lichimo and Jack Stumpfig.
“I’m confident in all of them,” Immelman said. “We’re as deep through five as anyone in the country. Our issue is putting 54 holes together, which comes from a lack of experience.”
Mize said the same, but also said he liked his team’s chances to put it together this week.
“We’re a little under the radar, but I think if we can get into match play, which is the top eight, we can be tough to beat,” he said. “We’re such a deep team. Everyone’s right around the same ability. That’s different than some other teams that have a few good players but aren’t as deep. I think that’s where we’ll have an advantage.
“If we play well and make match play, we’ll be a tough out.”
Columbus State has won six times in the past, second most in the country. Florida Southern leads all teams with 12 titles. The Cougars also have had the individual champion six times, tied with Florida Southern for the national lead.
Neither Mize nor Immelman knew much about the course, Hershey Country Club, but Mize said he expected a challenge.
“We don’t know too much,” he said. “We’re playing a practice round (on Sunday). It’ll definitely be a challenge, but we’re excited. We’ve played well on tough courses throughout the season.”
“It won’t be easy,” Immelman said of the course. “I’m confident in all of them, though. I’m comfortable with their ability to handle the conditions. We’re expecting good weather, moderate temperatures, so I know they’ll be able to do well. We’re looking forward to it, and I really think they’re capable of winning.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.