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Oakland Men's Golf Wins Four Titles In 2004-05

At the start of the 2004-05 season, Oaklandís menís golf team had good reason to be optimistic. After all, the squad was returning the core of a team that had won seven tournaments the previous season, including a school record five straight. The one thing that had eluded the Golden Grizzlies from the previous season was the Mid-Continent Conference championship, and head coach Dave DeWulf and his squad were determined to bring that title back to Oakland in 2005.

Oakland opened the fall portion of its schedule at the John Piper Intercollegiate hosted by Bowling Green. The Golden Grizzlies, the defending champions in the event, showed that they were primed for another strong season with a solid third-place finish in the 16-team outing. Senior Brian Stuard (Jackson, Mich.) picked right up where he left off from the previous season as the teamís No. 1 player, leading OU with a 54-hole score of 213 to finish in a tie for fourth among 81 players.

Junior Jonathon Pauli (St. Johnís, Mich.) picked up his first career individual title in the next OU outing, leading the team to its first win of the season at the Butler Fall Invitational. Pauli included a career-low round of 68 in his three-stroke win, earning the first of a pair of Mid-Con Player of the Week awards he would pick up over the season.

After a fifth-place finish at the Eastern Kentucky Fall Invitational, Oakland got on a roll to wind up the fall season, taking the team titles in the final two events to wrap things up for the winter. Led by Stuard, who won both individual titles, the Golden Grizzlies picked up wins at the Dayton Fall Invitational and the Crowne Plaza Colonial Classic. In Dayton OU swept the top four spots in the individual standings, with Stuard, Rob Reynolds (Waterford, Mich.), Pauli, and Charles Kluesner (Terre Haute, Ind.) claiming the top four spots for Oakland. At the Colonial it was Stuard and Chad Elliott (Rochester, Mich.) that posted top-five finishes to pace the team to the win there.

After starting the spring season on a damp trip to Florida that saw OU get in only one round of play at the Treasure Coast Classic, the Golden Grizzlies came back North and claimed their third win of the season, taking the title at the Butler Spring Invitational. Pauli came away with his second title of the season at the event, while Stuard placed third to lead Oakland to a 13-stroke win in the eight-team field.

Oakland then hooked up with IUPUI for a rare dual meet format competition, one the Jaguars won by taking six of the nine matches. The event did give OU a heads up on the Harry Mussatto Golf Course, where OU played its next tournament and the Mid-Con Championship would be held at the end of the season. The extra time on the course paid off at the Beu/Massatto Classic, where Oakland finished second to host Western Illinois.

In the tune-up for the conference championships, Stuard came up with his third win of the season at the Joe Cole/Cleveland State Invitational, starting out with a round of 69 on his way to a score of 221 and a nine-stroke win. As a team Oakland finished second, but some high scores gave reason for some concern going into the Mid-Con Championships the next week.

Back at Western Illinois, Oakland shook off the high scores from the Joe Cole tournament, firing a first round 298 to take a two-stroke lead after 18 holes. Stuard led the Oakland charge, carding a 69, his fifth sub-70 round of the season. From there, however, the Golden Grizzlies sank in the standings as their scores went up in each of the next two rounds and the team faded back to a sixth-place finish.

Stuard, however, did not let up and ended the 54 holes tied with Southern Utahís Kenny Ebalo for first place. All it took was one hole of the sudden-death playoff between the pair to decide things, with Stuard getting a birdie after knocking his second shot three-feet from the pin to take the title and Mid-Con Golfer of the Year and first team All-Mid-Con accolades. His win also gave him his fifth Mid-Con Golfer of the Week award of the season as well.

Stuard became the first Oakland golfer to claim the Mid-Con title and finished the season with a stroke average of 72.36, a new school record and the second best mark in the conference behind Ebalo. Pauli also earned All-Mid-Con honors, getting a place on the second team with his tie for eighth at the Mid-Con event. He finished the season eighth overall in the Mid-Con with a stroke average of 74.42.