Oct. 7, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - For the second straight day, teams battled harsh weather conditions at the West Point Golf Course, but the Army golf team was able to come away with the team championship at the inaugural Stars & Stripes Invitational. The Black Knights were led by individual medalist Marcus Plunkett, who shot two-under par for the 54-hole event. Plunkett was the only player in the 55-person field who broke par.
No player shot better than a one-over par 70 during Monday's challenging final round. Play was halted for 45 minutes late in the round because of the intense rain and wind.
"We got off to a rough start, but the guys were patient," head coach Brian Watts said. "They knew it was going to be a tough day just based on the weather conditions. We had a rain delay late in the round, and the guys rallied over the final three or four holes. They were able to regroup after the delay and finished really strong. I'm extremely proud of them. It was a great team effort."
Army led by one shot entering Monday's play and extended their final margin of victory to five strokes by shooting a field-best 286 during the final round. The four Black Knights that scored on Monday shot no worse than 72, including a one-over par 70 by freshman Justin Pagila which tied for the lowest round by any competitor during the round.
Plunkett shot a three-over 72 on Monday to claim a three-shot victory. The win was his second straight at the Black Knights' home course. Plunkett was also the medalist at the Lance Chance Classic held at West Point last spring.
"We knew with the weather being the way it was this weekend that even par was going to be a pretty good number," Watts said. "For Marcus to go out and be the only player under par speaks volumes about his game this weekend. I'm very proud of him and the team."
Sophomore Eric Peng and Pagila rounded out Army's top-10 finishers. Peng finished tied for fourth at three-over par after a final-round 72 on Monday. Pagila rebounded from a 10-over par 79 in Sunday's first round to jump from a 40th-place tie to a tie for ninth at eight-over par.
Junior Robby Hill and freshman Peter Kim rounded out Army's lineup, finishing tied for 15th and tied for 22nd, respectively. Senior Harrison Florence played as an individual, finishing tied for 15th at 11-over par.
The event was nearly a preview of April's Patriot League Championship which will be played at the same facility with six of the nine conference teams competing.
"You always want to protect your home course, and the guys did that so well this week," Watts said. "We feel very fortunate to have played all 54 holes with all the weather. The team should be proud of themselves. They hung in there and battled hard. My hat goes off to them."
The Black Knights won their first tournament since tying for the Service Academy Classic title last October.
Army is scheduled to take part in the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate starting Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Team Standings (Final)
1. Army (287-268-286: 841) +13
2. Loyola (273-283-290: 846) +18
3. Lehigh (285-292-295: 872) +44
4. Pacific (298-283-294: 875) +47
5. Columbia (296-292-290: 878) +50
6. Bucknell (301-285-399: 886) +58
7. UC Santa Barbara (306-288-300: 894) +66
8. Bethune Cookman (307-293-296: 896) +68
9. Lafayette (318-314-306: 938) +110
10. Holy Cross (329-297-313: 939) +111
1. Marcus Plunkett (66-67-72: 205) -2; t-4. Eric Peng (72-66-72: 210) +3; t-9. Justin Pagila (79-66-70: 215) +8; t-15. Robby Hill (77-69-72: 218) +11; t-22. Peter Kim (72-71-80: 223) +16;