Klitzke conquers NSIC, stamps ticket to regionals
The Augustana men’s golf team’s season is over, but one golfer has at least one meet left.
Junior Parker Klitzke won the NSIC Championship April 15 by shooting a three-round score of 2-under, 214 to automatically qualify for the NCAA Super Regional May 8-10 in Axtell, Neb.
He is the first Viking to win an individual NSIC Championship.
Klitzke’s success comes after winning the NSIC Spring Preview March 27. After not winning a tournament in high school, Klitzke has won three straight events. He hopes his momentum will carry into the regional.
“To win a conference championship at any level of college golf, it’s a big deal,” Klitzke said. “For me, this is uncharted territory. Nobody from Augie has ever won an individual conference championship, and it’s been awhile since an individual has made it to regionals.”
He won the conference title on the strength of a second-round 68, his lowest college round. He said his putter carried him on the back nine, and he was able to hold onto his lead despite shooting 76 during a windy final round.
“I guess I was mentally in a good place,” Klitzke said. “I didn’t get too up or down when I hit hot stretches or cold spells, just kind of stayed level-headed and that really helped.”
Head coach Danny Sinksen said watching Klitzke comfortably clinch the title was a highlight of the season.
“It was very special watching him as he closed out with four tap-in pars,” Sinksen said. “His game is at a very elite level.”
Klitzke beat 49 golfers at the NSIC Championship, but regionals will be a major step up in competition. The Central Region consists of three conferences,—the NSIC, GAC and MIAA. The conference champions advance to regionals automatically, but the rest of the teams qualify based on the regional rankings.
In large part because the MIAA and GAC are farther south where golfers can play year-round, the NSIC has zero teams among the top 10 in the latest Central Region rankings.
“Generally [the southern conference] players are better,” Klitzke admitted. “For NSIC schools, it’s a big deal to make regionals. I think it’ll be something fun to experience. I don’t want it to be a one-time thing, but it could be. So obviously I want to play well, but I also want to enjoy it.”
His teammates will not accompany him as the Vikings finished fifth of 10 teams at the conference tourney. They fell behind early but finished second on the final day. With no seniors, junior Ted Urch, who finished 27th but shot 75 on day 3 to one-up Klitzke, said he believes the team will score better next year.
“I think there’s a lot of positives to take away,” Urch said. “We definitely have potential, and I think you could see that a little on the last day. We just all need to be more consistent, especially me. I need to play better in all three rounds to help us out.”
The team finished its season last weekend with its only match play event of the year against the University of Sioux Falls. Despite trouncing USF in the NSIC championship by 22 strokes (+53 compared to +75), the Vikings fell to their rival in the dual.
Urch said that, despite the relaxed atmosphere permeating match play, it was still a disappointing way to end the season.
“Who wants to lose to USF?” he said.
The team is done, but Klitzke has a super regional to play. He said he will take a few days off—not that the weather gives him much of a choice—to get caught up with his classes “before practicing hard the week, week-and-a-half leading up to it.”