November 02, 2007

Intramural golf duo ready for national tournament

by Christi Mathis


CARBONDALE, Ill. – As Leighton A. Peavler and Nathan J. Grintjes approached the final holes at the Collegiate Golf Alliance regional tournament in Edwardsville, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale students knew they had a chance to win and become the first SIUC intramural golf team to earn a berth at the National Collegiate Golf Championship Tournament.

"We birdied our first three holes, then hit a wall," said Grintjes, a senior from Chatham majoring in finance with specialization in investments. "We then birdied 16, 17 and 18. After 18, we knew we were close to the lead, if not in the lead. I told Leighton we just needed to take one shot at a time and keep our composure and stay aggressive."

Peavler, a senior from Catlin majoring in exercise science, said he and Grintjes had practiced together for about two weeks and had a "general game plan" and a "mind-set to win" as they entered the tourney.

"At first, I was hitting first off the tee and putting something in play while Nate pulled out his driver and swung for the fences," Leighton recalls. "We knew we were in the hunt for winning while on the second-to-last hole, a 510 yard dog-leg, par 5. Nate elected to go first, knocking an 8-iron to the end of the dog leg- safe but far from the green. I cut the corner with my driver up over some trees and a house and we found my ball in the left rough, 90 yards from the green.

"At that point, perhaps the most exciting moment in the round, we sat in the driver's seat and were high-fiving while yelling 'Viva, Las Vegas!' Leighton said.

Indeed, after birdies on the last two holes for a 9-under par score 63, the pair found themselves at the top of the leader board of the tournament, held earlier this fall. They won an all-expense paid trip to the National Collegiate Golf Championship Tournament at Badlands Golf Club in Las Vegas Nov. 9-11.

"Our goal when entering the tournament was to qualify," Peavler said. "Now we can go to Vegas and represent our Salukis proudly!"

"We're very excited," said Corné Prozesky, assistant director of facilities for Recreational Sports and Services at SIUC. "This is the first time someone from SIUC has ever qualified to go to the national championship."

"Our goal at the national tournament would be to win," Grintjes added. "Obviously, 9 under would be our number to shoot and anything lower would be great. But the main goal would be to win."

Grintjes, the son of Case and Judy Grintjes, said he also hopes to meet some new people and enjoy Las Vegas. It's the 11th year he's played golf, including four years at Chatham-Glenwood High School and two years at Danville Community College.

Peavler, son of Ruth and Chad Hays and Bob Peavler, has been playing golf just four years and doesn't have any high school or collegiate golfing experience.

In the faculty and staff competition, the SIUC team of Prozesky and Herman Williams, recently retired longtime assistant director for intramurals, took second place. Both men are from Carbondale. Also competing for the University was the team of Thomas E. Reeves Jr., a kinesiology graduate student from Cary, and Edward L. Flanigan, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering from Carbondale.

The Collegiate Golf Alliance serves more than 1,400 colleges and universities across the United States.