CARBONDALE — SIU junior Peyton Wilhoit got a second chance at the postseason after shooting a 10-over 82 in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
Wilhoit, the Valley player of the year, rebounded to finish tied for 21st at the conference tournament, and became just the second Saluki in history to be selected to compete at the NCAA regionals as an individual. The Searcy, Arkansas native will join Richard Tock (1972) as the only SIU players to compete as an individual when he heads to the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Oklahoma.
"I didn't handle that pressure the right way," Wilhoit said, reminiscing about the conference tournament. "I just felt like I learned that whenever I did feel that pressure, I changed my routine, changed the speed at which I was playing. As much as you don't want those things to happen, it's a great learning moment."
Wilhoit was one of the most consistent players in the country this year, finishing in the top 15 of his last seven events to end the regular season. He led the Salukis with a 72.4 stroke average and won two tournaments.
"Peyton's had such a great year across the board," SIU coach Justin Fetcho said in a statement. "It's great for him to be able to see his season continue. It's a testament to the year he's had."
He will have to finish as the top individual not on one of the advancing teams at the Norman Regional to advance to the NCAA championships. The NCAA will take the top-five teams out of the 54-hole event that is scheduled for Monday through Wednesday.