UHV freshman shines in collegiate debut (w/video, gallery)
Feb. 16, 2014 at 2:16 a.m.
UHV golfer talks Claud Jacobs Collegiate
Nick Ver Elst, UHV senior, talks about experience at Claud Jacobs Collegiate Invitational Sunday.
Claud Jacobs Collegiate Invitational - Final Round
• Women: Monday, The Club at Colony Creek, 9 a.m.
• Men: Monday, Victoria Country Club, 9 a.m.
When UHV freshman Heather Shake gets ready to make an opening drive, she lines up the ball on the tee, checks the wind and takes one practice swing.
Then she hits it.
The process made for a first-place finish at the end of Day 1 of the Claud Jacobs Collegiate Invitational at The Club at Colony Creek.
The women's division was comprised of nine schools from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, Kansas and Mississippi.
Shake, in her collegiate tournament debut, scored a 71 and tied with Caroline Goodin from Oklahoma City University for the top spot in the women's division.
The Pearland native was very pleased with the results.
Even when the wind started picking up at midday, Shake was ready.
"I took the wind into consideration," Shake said.
Shake, along with teammates Becky Benchot, Brooke Brasseaux, Caitlin Swisher, Shelbi Vincent, Haley Harris and Devon Dueser, scored low enough to put UHV in third place of women's team results after the first day with a 303 finish.
In her senior year of high school, Shake looked at other universities to play golf but decided on UHV after several visits.
"I felt like this school fit me the best," Shake said. "Everyone was so nice here, welcoming - it was a perfect fit."
UHV coach Brian Williamson was excited after Shake's performance Sunday.
"It was her debut, and she started her career under par," Williamson said. "She's developed so much since being here - it's just the beginning."
Faced with multiple NAIA preseason-ranked teams (Oklahoma City University was ranked No. 3, Northwood University at No. 17 and Texas Wesleyan at No. 18), Williamson was happy with the Jaguars' third-place standing in its first tournament of 2014.
"There are a lot of really good schools here, so this kickoff is exciting," he said.
UHV junior Benchot tied for 10th place with five other golfers with a score of 75.
Though she made three birdies in a row, Benchot was not satisfied with her result.
"I hit the ball in the water, which was a dumb mistake," Benchot said. "The wind helped on some holds and hurt on others."
Playing on the same course as nationally ranked teams doesn't faze The Woodlands native.
"They are bigger schools with bigger teams, but it doesn't matter what size you are; what matters is how good your players are," she said.
Brasseaux scored a 75 and tied for 16th; Caitlin Swisher scored an 81, tying for 27th; Shelbi Vincent scored an 84, tying for 35th; Haley Harris scored an 85, tying for 38th; and Devon Dueser scored an 87 for a 42nd-place finish.
The women's final round will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at The Club at Colony Creek.
After Sunday's 36 holes at Victoria Country Club, UHV senior Nick Ver Elst knew he can play better than his score showed.
Ver Elst scored two 76s for a total of 152, putting him in 26th place with five other golfers.
"The wind was tough in the second round, but I can do better; I've been playing better," Ver Elst said. "I'll take this into tomorrow."
The Antwerp, Belgium, native is playing in his first tournament in nearly a year after transferring from Oklahoma State University.
"It's my last semester, so it's all or nothing," Ver Elst said.
The 23-year-old moved to the U.S. to play golf for Kansas State University, then Oklahoma.
"I definitely wanted to play competitively in my last year; UHV is a good opportunity for me to string up some solid victories," he said.
UHV's Steve Jones came in 37th place with a 76, 78; 154 finish, William Jake Truss scored 82, 75; 157, Vance Edwards scored a 78, 80; 158 and freshman Kyle Smith scored an 84 on the first round.
Junior Edwards was not happy with his first day performance.
"It was sloppily played," Edwards said. "And I putted very bad - just not a good day."
The day wasn't a total loss, though.
"It's really cool to meet people from all over," Edwards said about the tournament, which hosted 15 men's teams.
"I had fun today even though I played terrible, which I guess is what it's all about," he said.
The men's final round will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at Victoria Country Club.