Junior Wins MAC Title to Propel Men’s Golf to Third-Place Finish

May 4, 2023 | Athletics, News, UToday, Advancement, Alumni
By Steve Easton

Junior Barend Botha birdied his final hole on Tuesday to capture medalist honors and help the Toledo men’s golf team post a third-place finish at the 2023 Mid-American Conference Championships. In addition to winning the conference title, Botha was named the MAC’s Golfer of the Year to become the third Rocket in program history to receive the prestigious honor.

Botha fired a four-under par 68 in Wednesday’s final round and finished with a 54-hole total of five-under par 211, one shot ahead of Miami’s Danny Fisher (71-71-72). He is the seventh Rocket to win the MAC Championships and will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals to be held on May 15-17.

Toledo Junior Barend Botha, MAC Golfer of Year 2023, Junior Barend Botha celebrates after birdieing his final hole to win the MAC title at five-under par..

Junior Barend Botha celebrates after birdieing his final hole to win the MAC title at five-under par.

“I’m very thankful to be named player of the year,” Botha said. “I feel like I had an outstanding season and I’m very pleased with my consistent performances. The fact that I could add the MAC Individual trophy as my second collegiate win for the season makes me even happier. I’m very blessed with everything I have achieved this season.”

A George, South Africa native, Botha registered a tournament-best 16 birdies with seven coming in the final round. He opened the back nine with three straight birdies and then won the tournament with a birdie on the final hole.

“After nine holes, I knew it was going to be a fight until the end, and I was going to have to make something happen,” Botha said. “I was very grateful to start the back nine with three birdies. That gave me some confidence going into the next few holes, and I was just happy to get the job done.”

“Barend has found a different gear and it’s really great to see,” Head Coach Jeff Roope said. “His birdies at the beginning of the back nine put him in a good position and with the last holes being so tough we were hoping he could hang on.”

Botha’s play helped the Rockets finish just six shots behind first-place Northern Illinois (869). Toledo posted a one-under par 287 Wednesday and was the only school to finish under in the final round. UToledo finished four shots behind Kent State in last year’s MAC Championships.

Senior Palmer Yenrick also registered a Top 10 finish for Toledo by placing eighth at one-over par 217 (74-70-73). Freshman Mason Deal carded the team’s second-best round of the day with an even-par 72.

“Conditions were super challenging each day and we really adjusted well in the second and third rounds,” Roope said. “Mason really provided a spark for us off the bench and that was nice to see from someone competing in his first MAC Championships.”

Rounding out the Rockets’ lineup were junior Jamie Tofte Nielsen (T-25th /79-72-74) and senior NJ Botha (T-31st /76-74-78=228).


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