CULLMAN, Ala. — The Darton State College golf team gets a “B” grade following its tie for third at the season-opening Wallace State Invitational on Tuesday.
“Make that a B-minus,” Cavs coach Dale Dover said, quickly changing his original mark. “I don’t want them to think I was happy with third. We’ve still got some work to do.”
Darton shot 284 as a team Tuesday, finishing 4-under in the final round. But it wasn’t enough to catch Tim Walker and Central Alabama. Walker, who hails from Australia, fired a 66 on Tuesday to lead Central from second place after Day 1 to the title. Wallace State, the host and first-round leader, took second, although Wallace’s Chris Ashley won the low medalist by shooting an impressive 14-under for the tournament.
Darton did, however, have two Top 5 finishers individually who made the All-Tournament Team: sophomore Taylor Martin and freshman Josh Glossop, both of whom ended tied for fifth at 5-under.
Glossop, who’s from England, called his first collegiate tournament in the U.S. a “different” experience.
“Well, obviously, the weather was a massive factor. It’s really hot, and the ball travels a bit further, and it’s quite different playing on Bermuda grass. We don’t have that over in England,” he said. “And I think the scores are quite a bit lower here than (tournaments) I played back home. Just better players, better competition.”
Martin’s final-round 68, however, was what had Dover most excited as he drove home with the team Tuesday. He said he had a “heart-to-heart” with Martin after Monday’s first two rounds and explained to his sophomore that with fellow sophomore Tae Kim ruled academically ineligible for the fall season, he needed Martin to step up.
“I was real proud of how Taylor responded (Tuesday),” Dover said. “He really used his head out there, and I want to see more of that.”
Martin and Madison Turner, who fired a 74 on Tuesday, are the two remaining elder statesmen on the team after Kim was unexpectedly ruled ineligible hours before the team teed off Monday. Martin said Tuesday the news of Kim’s suspension was a blow to everyone.
“We definitely didn’t really expect that and we were all a little bummed, but we’re glad we brought a sixth guy to give him a chance to compete (in Tae’s place),” Martin said. “Tae’s still a little upset, and we’re upset for him, but we just have to move forward.”
The Cavs will do so with a team of two sophomores and six freshmen, one of whom rebounded nicely Tuesday from an opening-round meltdown Monday. Tyler Shamblin, the former Seminole County star and two-time Albany Herald Player of the Year, froze up during his first two rounds Monday and fired off a combined 14-over. But he bounced back in a big way Tuesday with a 73, and this time Darton was able to count his score when fellow freshman Jake O’Bryan struggled to a 77.
“Tyler felt a lot better about having his score count and shooting 73. Those first two rounds were pretty bad,” Dover said. “Hey, it was his first rounds of his first tournament, and he’s a country boy from Donalsonville. He’s never been a stage like this. But he showed (Tuesday) he can compete.”
Martin said the entire team was “proud” of how Shamblin bounced back.
“Definitely proud to see him come back from an 80 and shoot what he did,” Martin said. “(Starting your college career) with an 80 wasn’t what he wanted, I’m sure.”
Glossop points to Shamblin’s turnaround as a reason the Cavaliers could be dangerous in any tournament they play this season.
“Losing Tae hurt, but we’re so deep,” he said. “We have a lot of depth on this year.”
Which is good news for Dover, who has started the 2013 season by losing a player from last year’s team that didn’t return (Parks Brown), had another ruled academically ineligible hours before the team’s first tournament (Kim), and he even had to suspend his top practice qualifier (freshman Rafael Miranda) for missing class.
“That’s why it’s a B-minus right now,” Dover explained. “This golf course set up for some low numbers, and while (9-under as a team) looks OK, it really wasn’t. These guys are good we have this year. We can play better.
“A lot better.”
Darton, which finished third out of 11 teams — seven of which were a part of the NJCAA nationals field a year ago — now sets its sight on its next tournament Sept. 30 at the Thomas University Invitational at Kinderlou Country Club in Valdosta.