LAKE CITY, Minn. — JJ Cooney shot a program-NCAA DII best 140 (71-69) and won a two-hole playoff to claim his first individual title while leading the University of Sioux Falls Men’s Golf Team to a third place finish at the Watkins Invitational, which concluded Saturday at the Jewel Golf Club.
The Cougars, which had career-best marks from Cooney, Jack Evans, Blake Berry and Nathan Woodall, carded a USF DII-program-best two-round total of 583. USF not only carded the best second day total at the tournament but set a program 18-hole round mark with a 285. The Cougars opened with a 298 and then came in with a three-under par total of 285 to finish third with a seven-over par 583. The Cougars finished only behind team champion Winona State, which had an eight-under 568 (278-290), and second place Washburn at 573 (287-286). The third place finish was the team’s top overall mark since taking third this past spring at the Upper Iowa Spring Invite on March 30-31, 2019.
Cooney, a three-time All-NSIC performer from Pickstown, was named USF’s Player to Watch in the NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll and showed it at the Watkins Invitational. He won the tournament in a two-hole playoff with Dylan Brown (68-72) and Brady Madsen (66-74), who also finished with a four-under par total of 140. In setting the DII-program low, Cooney bettered the mark of fellow senior and teammate Brenden Bassing, who carded a 141 (73-68) at the Bemidji State Invite on Sept. 11-12, 2017. In fact, Cooney improved his two-round best by five shots as he had a 145 (70-75) at the NSIC Preview Invite on April 5-6, 2019 at Shoal Creek in Kansas City, Mo.
USF was able to set the program’s best single round and two-round totals because every member of the team improved their scores from day one to day two. Aside from Cooney, sophomore Jack Evans had a career-best two-round total of 145 (75-70) to finish in a tie for ninth. He finished one over par after rounds of 75 and 70.