Big things on horizon for Tiffin golf team

It’s a good time to be Darby Roggow.

The Tiffin University men’s golf coach has two big events coming up. This weekend, his Dragons will compete in the NCAA Division II regionals for the second-consecutive year.

Then in August he will lead a squad of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference golfers – including three of his own players – to Scotland for a match-play tournament at St. Andrews.

Let’s start with the near present.

The Dragons, coming off a fifth-place finish and a fourth-place finish at a pair of Great Lakes Regional Tournaments, were selected as one of 80 teams to make the NCAA regionals.

TU will play the Central/Midwest Regional in Wisconsin starting Monday.

Roggow said he expected good things from this group, but had reservations coming in.

“Going into this year, we lost to graduation three really good players,” Roggow said. “I knew we were gonna be young, and I knew we had a lot of talent, but it was a matter of, will we actually execute.”

Tiffin has, even if player Corey Martinez said it did take a little time.

“That’s our goal to get to (regionals), and we knew we had the talent to get there,” Martinez said. “It’s great that we performed the way we knew we could. We started off a little bit weak, and we were lucky to turn it around, and I knew we could.”

At a fall tournament preview for GLIAC schools, Tiffin finished eighth. Two weeks later at the GLIAC Championship in October, things went better for the Dragons, as they finished third. TU led the tournament most of the way.

“We struggled down the last nine holes, but I think that might have been one of the best things that happened to us long-term, because after that, it was like ‘we don’t have to be afraid to learn how to win.’ It’s tough to go wire-to-wire in a 54-hole event. We played 45 holes awesome. We played five holes not-so-great.”

As the season has progressed Roggow has seen some big performances from a team that he said rarely uses the same lineup.

In the Purgatory Regional in early April, Tyler Maranville and Jon Klein each shot two-day scores of 144, tying for eighth in the 31 team event. Martinez was only five strokes off that pace.

“It’s been the same six guys, but we’ve been playing who’s hot,” Roggow said. “The emergence of Corey Martinez this spring I think has been huge for us. Jon Klein, who’s a senior, who I’ve always said is one of the most talented kids I’ve ever had, he is playing like a senior leader right now. His mental maturity over the last month and a half has just been amazing. We’ve spent a lot of time working on that stuff. Tyler Maranville ….is arguably one of the top five players in the region. He’s a couple of putts away from being stupid awesome.”

“Depth,” said TU player Andrew Bollinger about the key to the team’s success. Bollinger shot a 153 at the event. “Just the top four scores being really consistent, and having two low scores, and two more consistent low scores are helping the team.”

It’s something Roggow said you need to be successful in Division II. Roggow has been the Dragons coach for 13 seasons, a period that stretches back to TU’s NAIA days.

“It’s been fun, but it hasn’t come easy,” Roggow said of the program’s transition to Division II. “I remember our first tournament, we went out and shot five over par. And I thought, ‘hey, we’re pretty good.’ And the leading team was 20 shots ahead of us.

“I thought to myself, ‘we’ve got a lot of work to do.'”

The Dragons have done that. Klein said they can get even better.

“We haven’t peaked yet, and that’s kind of the whole goal that we’ve had,” Klein said. “We plan on getting there, and that’s always the ultimate goal; that’s the final stage of what we can do at the amateur level.”

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, some in the TU program have big things coming this summer. Martinez, Klein and Bollinger are three of 10 GLIAC golfers who will travel with Roggow to play a Scottish team at St. Andrews.

“We’re over there for 10 days,” said Roggow, who will serve as the coach for the GLIAC squad. “Five days of practice, two days of competitive golf. It’s a Ryder Cup format against the Scottish club over there at St. Andrews.

Roggow said he was approached at the Golf Coaches Association about the trip, then got a call from the USA Athletes International about coaching the group.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I think it’s nice that your peers recommend you for something like that,” Roggow said. “And then have the opportunity to lead select players in the GLIAC, I mean, I feel like it’s a really big honor.”

The players said they also felt that way.

“It’s unbelievable,” Martinez said. “It’s a once in a lifetime chance, and I was just glad that Darby asked me to go. Everybody’s pretty excited, and it’s great we get to represent the country.”