by Alan Babbitt
The Hope College men's golf team continued its climb up the leaderboard at a challenging NCAA Division III Championship on Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Led by national title contender Josh Gibson, the Flying Dutchmen shot a third-round 303 at Champions Trace course for 10th-place, 54 hole total of 911.
Gibson shot a 1-over-par 73 during the third round. The senior from Grandville, Michigan (Grandville HS) and 2017 national champion is three strokes off the lead.
Photo of Josh Gibson by Mark Mahan
Hope has moved up from 14th after the first round and 11th after the second round. Illinois Wesleyan and Huntingdon (880) share the lead heading into the final round on Friday, May 17 that tees off at 7:30 a.m.
During the third round, Hope tied for the fifth-lowest round among the 18 teams who made the second-round cut. Only Huntingdon finished under 300 with a 290.
There was only one individual round under par: third-round leader Sam Goldenring of Williams with a 80.
"The scores were high. This is a difficult golf course," head coach Scott Lokers said of a venue that annually hosts the PGA Tour's Barbasol Classic. "We hung in there. Josh is in the running. We're excited about that. We would like to move up in the standings tomorrow if we can. Everyone is trying their hardest. We're enjoying the experience."
Hope has finished in a team-best sixth place at nationals the past two seasons.
Gibson, who was named a two-time finalist for the Jack Nicklaus Division III Player of the Year Award on Tuesday, played an up and down round that featured five birdies but three double bogeys. He shot 1-under over his final nine holes.
Lokers is encouraged by Gibson's play heading into the final 18 holes.
"The good thing for Josh this week is he's making a lot of birdies," Lokers said. "He's had some higher scores on some holes, but part of that is this golf course. If you look at the scores, all the players are having some of the same issues. I have all the confidence in Josh going out and playing well tomorrow."
Junior Noah Weigle of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville) finished 3-over on Thursday for his lowest round of the tournament. He recorded three birdies, four bogeys and one double bogey.
Senior Ben Kramer of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake) chipped in a 77. He is tied for 39th at 12-over.
Photo of Ben Kramer by Mark Mahan
Junior Daniel Settecerri of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Bloomfield Hills) carded a 78. He is tied for 44th at 14-over.
Senior Andrew Goble of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton) shot an 85 but collected an eagle on teh 280-yard, par-4 second hole.
Goble hit a 270-yard drive onto the green, Lokers said, before making a five-foot putt with a left to right break.
Video interview with Josh Gibson