Robert Coyne falls one stroke short of PSAC champion

Alex Geli
Staff Writer

Robert Coyne will never be able to mow his yard ever again.
Blades of grass, weeds and, heck, maybe even the color green will forever torment the junior who lead men’s golf throughout the season. Why? He was one eagle away from tying for the win the PSAC Championship over the weekend. But, on the final hole –a par 5 – the fescue of the Hershey Links golf course was the deciding factor of his third place finish.
After a perfectly placed drive off the tee, Coyne’s shanked and over-hit his all-or-nothing try for the green on two shots. From there, chipping from the St. Andrews-like rough, Coyne salvaged a par and kept his -2 score intact. Yet another top-5 finish for Coyne boosted his club to a 4th place finish overall in the final event of the fall season.
“I can’t believe I didn’t win,” Coyne told his interim coach, Ron Weaver, after the tournament.
“He was definitely disappointed in himself,” Weaver said.
But the fact is this: after last season’s last place flunk at the same tournament, Coyne should be showing his pearly whites more often. This weekend, Coyne showcased his improvement, just like he’s done throughout the entire season.

Coyne placed third overall and came within just strokes of winning the championship.

The junior placed in the top 10 in 4 out of the 5 tournaments in the fall. First, he placed 6th at the Hal Hansen Invitational; in the Vulcan Invitational, he placed 5th; at the Mercyhurst Invitational, Coyne reached his peak as he won the entire tournament in Harborcreek, PA.
Now, at the culmination of competitive play before the winter hits, he was oh-so-close to a 1st place tie, but landed 3rd out of 35 of the best golfers in division II – a field that Weaver thinks Coyne definitely deserves to be in.
“He’s clearly one of the top players in the country,” the interim coach said. “He knows he has the ability to be one of the best in division II.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the other players under Weaver’s wing, who “underperformed,” as he put it, in Hummelstown, PA this weekend.
A calculator might’ve come in handy when figuring out the differentiating scores between the Millersville golfers, because, after Coyne’s 2-under-par, the best score the Marauder’s board was a +9 by Matt Lutz, landing him in a tie at the 15th spot. Lutz, who replaced youngster Conor Gilbert on the roster for the event after solid play in the Mercyhurst Invitational, almost did two times better – still have that calculator?– than his remaining teammates who found themselves on the bottom half of the scoreboard with a +15. Both Chris Fieger and Jon Heile placed in a 4-way tie for 24th place.
“It just wasn’t meant for them I guess,” interim head coach Weaver said.
As a team, Millersville’s 611 stroke count was enough for 4th place out of the 7 PSAC members competing.
Even though an unsatisfactory performance by Millersville’s other golfers – and, not to mention, a stubbornly satisfactory performance by IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), the overall victors of the tournament– detoured Coyne from a PSAC championship, the men’s golf team has a bright future ahead of them.
“They improved all fall season,” Weaver said. “Next year is our breakout year.”
The way that Weaver’s club played late in the season, he sure has reason to think that. Only time will tell, though, as the offseason looms.
After a down-then-up term for the guys that was chock-full-of highlights for Coyne, there will be a two-week resting period for the men’s golf squad. Then it’s back to work for the guys as they start their workouts, which Weaver explained to include weight-training and running.
“We have a whole structure,” Weaver said about the offseason between the fall and spring.
While the leaves get raked and the snow starts to fall, Weaver and his gang will be counting down until they get another chance at a championship – a National Championship to be exact. After all, that is their ultimate goal, according to the interim coach.
They start their journey towards that goal as the spring season kick starts on March 23rd when Coyne and his teammates travel down to North Carolina to play in the Dr. Edwin B. Cottrell Invitational.
Will Coyne continue his surging success? If his near medal-winning bout at the PSAC Championships isn’t enough of an enticing thought, maybe having his head coach return from medical leave is.
Weaver, Millersville’s interim commander-in-chief while Scott Vandegrift was ill and unable to coach, was told some good news this week: Vandegrift, a life-long friend and mentor of Weaver’s, is now in good health and out of the hospital.
Vandegrift, who was the first person the team called after Millersville came out on top at the Mercyhurst Invitational, might be able to actually see a few wins first-hand as the head coach of the Marauder golfers in the spring season of 2013.