HARTFORD– Dave Roehl didn’t feel like he was going out on a limb.
The Carthage College men’s golf coach was confident that a second round would have made no difference last weekend and his top golfer – Grantsburg’s Jordan Knutson – would have notched a repeat win in the Wisconsin Lutheran Fall Invitational even if weather didn’t nix Sunday’s second round.
“We got through only about four holes in the second round, so it didn’t count,” Roehl said. “But it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, Jordan still would have won.”
Knutson – a senior at Carthage – was the only golfer to finish Saturday’s first round under par, scoring a 2-under 70, which was good for another 1st-place finish for the second consecutive year.
“He’s absolutely our main threat, because he’s consistent,” Roehl said. “He knows golf and tells the ball where to go.”
Knutson’s guidance was on-point on Saturday as he rose to the top of the leaderboard early in the round. He followed a bogey at No. 1 with a par and back-to-back birdies at No. 3 and 4. Though he had two more bogeys on the front, he also birdied two more times to make the turn with an even 36.
He secured the win on the back nine, starting with three consecutive pars before a birdie at No. 13 and two more pars. A bogey at No. 16 was his only blemish on the back nine and he followed it with consecutive birdies to finish with a 70, good for a three-stroke lead ahead of a four-player tie for second.
“I think Jordan has the potential and a great opportunity to be as good as he wants to be,” Roehl said. “The kid’s been a blessing for our school.”
While Roehl is confident a second round wouldn’t have affected Knutson’s spot atop the standings, it could possibly have helped Carthage gain an important stroke for at least a share of the team win.
The Red Men finished with a 380 on Saturday, just one stroke behind Edgewood (379) and one stroke ahead of Concordia Wisconsin (381). And with Knutson matching his career-best score in the first round, Carthage may have assumed the team lead if Sunday’s round was played.
“(Knutson) has a ceiling – he just doesn’t go over 76,” Roehl said. “In Division III, that’s pretty darn good.”
Knutson continues contributing to a Carthage team that has earned top-5 finishes in each of the seven tournaments on the fall portion of their schedule this season, including a 3rd-place finish in the 36-team Midwest Invitational the prior weekend.
“He is real good at narrow fairways because he always keeps the ball in play,” Roehl said. “Jordan is the heartbeat of the team.”
Roehl’s admiration for Knutson is so apparent, it’s as if the Grantsburg native is someone who would provide a meal if his coach was hungry. Roehl believes that, because it actually happened.
“On Easter Sunday last year, he caught a salmon with his bare hands while golfing at a (municipal) course,” Roehl said. “He brought it to my house, gutted it, cooked it and ate it. That’s amazing.”
Knutson and Carthage have just one more opportunity to test their skills this fall, with this weekend’s invitational at Grand Geneva Golf Resort in Lake Geneva – the last event of their fall schedule. The following months will be spent preparing for his final spring run with the Red Men and an effort to extend his time golfing for the Red Men by qualifying for postseason play.
“We have an indoor facility that he can putt, chip and use simulators at the school,” Roehl said. “He’ll utilize that to get better and if he continues to score low, he could go as an individual.”