Zips Golf Holds on to Third Place Finish, Grayson Runner-Up at Firestone Invitational


Junior Elliott Grayson holds his follow-through on a drive during this week’s Firestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. (Photo courtesy of Zips Golf)

By A.J. Fagerlin, Sports Contributor

The Zips hosted the 2017 Firestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club this week on Monday, Oct. 2 and Tuesday, Oct. 3. The 16 team, 86 individual event was played on the par-72, 7125 yard North Course at Firestone. One year ago the event saw many familiar competitors towards the top of the leaderboards.

After finishing tied for 12th place at the 2016 Firestone Invitational, Junior Elliott Grayson (Shelby, N.C.) found himself tied with defending champion Austin Squires of the University of Cincinnati heading into the final round on Tuesday.

Grayson got off to a hot start in the third and final round, shooting birdies on each of the first two holes to take a quick two-stroke lead. Despite another birdie on the par-3 sixth hole, two bogeys and a double-bogey kept Grayson tied with Squires, who carded just one bogey on his otherwise all-par front-nine.

Both players carded two birdies on the back-nine, but Squires’ one bogey to Grayson’s three gave him the narrow two-stroke victory, repeating as Firestone Invitational Individual Champion. Grayson led the tournament with 17 birdies and played par-3s in a tournament-best three-under par.

After the second round of play on Monday, the Zips trailed Illinois State by just 5 total strokes, at 7-under par as a team. With scoring down across nearly the entire tournament on Tuesday, the Zips had a tough battle against the course, going 18-over par in the final round, ending the Invitational in third place at 11-over.

For the second consecutive year, the Zips placed third at the Firestone Invitational behind Illinois State and Cincinnati. Cincinnati took the title at 14-under par a year ago and finished runner-up (-4) to Illinois State this week by just one stroke.

Along with Grayson, leading the Zips was Senior George Baylis (Ascot, England), who shot a bogey-free first round, and ended the tournament even par, tied for 10th place. The Zips five-man team finished:

Akron (+11) 287-282-306 – 875
2 Elliott Grayson (-6) 71-65-74 – 210
T10 George Baylis (E) 69-69-78 – 216
T33 Jacob Appleby (+8) 73-75-76 – 224
T48 Fabian Sunden (+11) 75-73-79 – 227
T60 Mitchell McFarland (+13) 74-77-78 – 229

Top 5 Teams
1. Illinois State:  282-282-295 – 859 (-5)
2. Cincinnati: 291-282-287 – 860 (-4)
3. Akron: 287-282-306 – 875 (+11)
4. S. Carolina-Aiken: 291-293-299 – 883 (+19)
5. Dayton: 297-298-289 – 884 (+20)

Top 5 Players
1. Austin Squires, Cincinnati: 71-65-72 – 208  (-8)
2. Elliott Grayson, Akron: 71-65-74 – 210  (-6)
3. Trent Wallace, Illinois State:  71-68-75 – 214  (-2 )
T4. Six players tied – 215  (-1)

The Zips will be back in action on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 9-10, at Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, West Virginia for the Mountaineer Invitational hosted by West Virginia University.