GOLF: Shaw lights up course with record 62

Michael Casagrande

Spirits were low as an abbreviated version of the men’s golf team arrived in State College, Penn. last weekend for the Rutherford Intercollegiate – the final tournament of the spring season.

With only four players making the trip, the Toppers had even fewer expectations than golfers.

The weekend was supposed to be Bowling Green senior captain John Mullendore’s curtain call as a Western golfer, but it was a freshman that stole the show.

Louisville freshman Robby Shaw shot a course record 10-under par 62 in the final round on Sunday to claim the title by six strokes. Shaw tallied 10 birdies and eight pars, leaving competitors in amazement.

“It was probably the greatest round of college golf I have ever seen,” said head coach Brian Tirpak. “On top of that, it was probably the easiest round of golf you’ll see in your life – he didn’t do anything spectacular or try and too much.”

“He just played golf.”

Shaw himself could find no explanation for his record-setting round.

“It is unexplainable,” he said with a wry smile. “I teed off knowing I was in second place. I birdied five of my first six holes and I knew I was on fire, just in the zone.”

The round of 62 was the best by any collegiate golfer from Kentucky. Shaw’s three-round score, a 15-under par 201 destroyed the previous record set by Penn State’s Jeff Turton last year.

Western’s former tournament round record was a 10-under, 206 shot by Eric Mason four years ago, according to Tirpak.

“That’s just flabbergasting,” Tirpak said. “I am so taken back by it because I remember the best round I had seen before and that was when I coached at Bellarmine and Mike Kamber shot a 64 and finished with a 201 score.”

“Robby shot a 65 – that’s just amazing.”

To honor outgoing Mullendore, Shaw played with three balls bearing the initials “JDM” for his veteran captain. Shaw said he thought about Mullendore a lot during his final 18 holes.

“I just wanted to go out with a bang for him,” Shaw said.

Nashville junior Brandon Weaver respects Mullendore for finishing his career in Penn State and not quitting when times got tough.

“I know he told me two weeks ago that he respected going up there for his last tournament,” Weaver said. “He had the option, I’m sure, of staying here, but he wanted to go up there.”

After the sixth hole, Shaw knew something special was happening. Holes three, four and six were three of the hardest on the Penn State Blue Course and Shaw was hoping to escape with pars.

What did he do? Birdie, birdie, birdie.

Penn State senior Jim Fuller expected to claim the Rutherford title in his final go-round and led the event after the first two rounds. He finished with a respectable 69, but Shaw could see Fuller was demoralized after the Topper’s blitz on the first few holes.

“I could tell after I caught on fire, he was kinda spooked,” Shaw said.

Shaw finished the front nine with three pars and a five under par 31 on the scorecard.

The freshman only saw his coach Brian Tirpak once during the final nine holes, but he was there with the rest of the team on the 18th green.

Teammate Sam Smith, a junior from Bedforshire, England, was one hole ahead of Shaw. Smith said that Shaw made a gesture on the 16th hole indicating he was shooting for 10-under par.

Shaw completed his magical round with a three-foot birdie putt on 18 as a crowd formed to witness history in the making.

After the final putt was in the hole, Mullendore was the first to greet Shaw on the green with a hug. Shaw said it was a touching moment for the two.

Fuller was visibly shaken following the final round according to Shaw.

“His eyes lit up and his jaw hit the floor when he saw my 62,” Shaw said.

The fact that Shaw had no practice round and still shot a first-round 68 in the rain is equally impressive.

Shaw is no stranger to success on the links. The St. Xavier graduate took home the Kentucky State High School title his senior year over nationally ranked teammate and heavy favorite, Jessie Mudd.

The team celebrated Shaw’s victory and Mullendore’s career at the world famous Creamery at Penn State. Shaw had chocolate ice cream before hopping into a mini-van for the trip back to the Hill.

As a team, Western finished in fourth place behind host and champion Penn State, Liberty and Maryland.

Despite making history only a day before, Shaw returned to campus yesterday with little to no fan-fare.

After un-cramming his 6’3″ frame from the Oldsmobile mini van, Shaw returned to life as a student, and an 8 a.m test Monday.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].