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"Experienced" Scots in National Golf Field
The Monmouth College men's golf team will be making their second trip in as many years to NCAA Division III Championships this week.

When the team takes to the links in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday and Wednesday for qualifying rounds, coach Dave Ragone will have experience on his side. Four of Ragone's five golfers have been there before. The Fighting Scots are making their third trip to the national tournament in four years and their first back-to-back trips since they made three straight appearances from 1978-80.

"Experience in this type of setting is a tremendous advantage," said Ragone. "We're better prepared this year to manage classes, finals and of course, the tournament. Most of our guys have been there before and know the routine -- two practice rounds, two qualifying rounds, and then, hopefully, two rounds in the finals. The team is excited to go again. You get treated like a king for a week."

Three seniors -- Ryan Harvey, Ted Starkey and Ryan Tapscott -- and junior Rodney Clayton helped the Scots make the cut last year in Port St. Lucie, Fla. This year the foursome is joined in the Keystone State by sophomore Sean McNamara for rounds at the par-71 Hershey Country Club's East Course, which features elevated greens and more than 100 bunkers, and Hershey Links, a seven-year-old, par-72 course cut from a farm along the bluffs and ravines overlooking Hershey. Clayton and Starkey enter tournament play with identical 77.9 stroke averages and Tapscott is right behind, averaging 78.2 strokes per round. Harvey brings his 80.4 average to the tournament and McNamara has averaged 83.3 strokes per round this season.

Only McNamara and Clayton have medaled this season -- Clayton at the conference tournament and McNamara at the Prairie Fire Classic in March. All five will need to bring their "A" game if the Scots are to qualify for the final two rounds.

"We think 305s Tuesday and Wednesday will be enough to make the cut," said Ragone. "We made the cut last year and finished 23rd. Our goal this year is to be in the top 20."

Only the top 23 teams and five individuals not with a qualifying team get to stick around for Thursday and Friday's final rounds. Ragone is optimistic his team can make the cut; after all, in their last 10 rounds, they've averaged just under a 306, or 76.5 per man.

"This is probably the best talent team I've had in my 10 years here," said Ragone. "We have five guys who can shoot 75 or lower."

Ragone will find out quickly if his team will measure up. The Scots are scheduled to be in the opening round's second group to tee off from Hershey Links Tuesday at 8 a.m. Eastern time.

(Monmouth College Athletics)
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