Men's Golf |
Sept. 16, 2010
By Jeff Gentil
As the Bearcat golf teams prepare to open their season September 20, both squads are expecting big things for 2010-11. Armed with talented veterans and some promising newcomers, both UC golf teams will look to rise in the BIG EAST standings this year.
Women's coach Janet Carl returns five key players from last year's team, including senior Bambee Dela Paz, who led all golfers with a 77.6 average in 30 rounds of play. Whether Dela Paz will be at her usual level of play is still yet to be seen.
"Bambee has been going through an equipment change," Carl said. "Those kinds of things can take a few years to adjust to. But she's fine tuning things now and is expecting to see positive results."
Another returning player who has benefitted from some fine tuning and tweaking is senior Jenny Linville, who was the Bearcats' top scorer in the BIG EAST Championships last spring. Linville shot 78-77-79 to finish in a tie for seventh and Carl hopes that carries over this season.
"She spent two years working on some things but she really came on strong at the BIG EAST (Championship). I expect her to continue along that path (this year)."
Two other players Carl will rely on are junior Kristin Price and sophomore Alex Carl. Price averaged 81.0 strokes per round last year while Carl was the team's second-best scorer at 78.8 strokes per round.
"Kristin played in some tournaments over the summer and looked very solid," Coach Carl said. "And Alex played quite a number of national events and was very consistent. She played better than she has ever played before."
In addition to the talent already on the squad, Carl welcomes several outstanding players, including three from Sweden with plenty of international experience. Olivia Dose and Andrea Malek will be freshman, while Fredricka Winqvist is a sophomore transfer from a small NAIA school in California.
"All three (Swedish) players play at a high level," Carl said. "Malek twice won her age championship in Sweden. Dose has really risen in the rankings and Winqvist's NAIA team competed for the national championship last year. With those three players, I fully expect to see a rise in our competitiveness this season."
Three other freshmen - Maddie Keefe, Alesia Melton and Molly Mullinger - round out the roster.
"The team as a whole has some lofty goals," Carl said. "I look for a very competitive season and an opportunity to vie for the BIG EAST Championship. We really have the opportunity to have five girls shoot par at any given moment."
Carl will get her first official look at her team on the course September 20-21 as the Bearcat women host the UC Fall Invitational at Elks Run Golf Course in Batavia, Ohio.
Men's coach Doug Martin welcomes back nine returning players, including U.S. Amateur qualifier Joe Kastelic, and expectations are high. Just don't say that too loudly around Martin.
"With the returning nucleus, expectations have to be high," he said. "But I'm guarded; I don't want to place added pressure on the guys. They've all done things to get better (over the summer). I just want them to relax and play golf the way they know how. It's very nice to have such high expectations"
Nick Proud, the only other senior, played just three competitive rounds last year, averaging a solid 76.3 and could be primed for a breakout season. But undoubtedly the Bearcats will be led by the aforementioned Kastelic and will benefit by returning their top six scorers from the 2009-10 campaign.
"Joe is a very talented player," Martin said. "He's putting the polishing touches on his game and if he learns to eliminate some unforced errors, he will be very difficult to beat. If he stays focused, and doesn't get ahead of himself, he has all the shots. He just needs to focus."
Juniors Kurt Harris and Ryne Toole haven't had the extensive playing time their sophomore teammates have had, but Martin is ready for them to contribute.
"The junior class has not been very competitive," he said. "They came in with some high expectations but they have not performed to their abilities. This is their time to step up."
Golf is a strictly numbers game. If you put up good scores, you play. Last season, sophomores David Tepe (75.7), Andrew Desmarais (77.2), Zach Bates (77.3) and Matt Ledom (77.9), all displayed flashes of brilliance and have Martin very excited about their collective potential.
"Bates and Tepe both had productive summers," he said. "I expect a lot from them. Both had issues with consistency - highs and lows. This year they need to meet in the middle. Ledom and Desmarais have come back improved as well."
Two freshmen - Spencer Mellon and Jordan Erlewine - will have a chance to compete for course time as well.
"Mellon has a great chance to help. He's a great athlete," Martin said. "Erlewine, when he was 14 and 15, was in the top-20 players in the country his age. But, he's been struggling with his confidence and needs to find his game again. He's not playing the way he's capable."
With all that experience and talent, the Bearcats could have a great season, but it may take more than that.
"We have a great group of guys," Martin said. "But we have been searching for leadership in the past. I have had to play that role. But, it appears we may have some this season and it certainly will make my job easier."
Like the women, Martin will get his first chance to see his players in action September 20-21 at the Cardinal Collegiate, where BIG EAST favorites Louisville and Notre Dame will be in the field.
"They are traditionally the best teams in the conference," he said. "But we're moving in the right direction and need to catch some good breaks. Our goal is to win the BIG EAST Championship. We're a ways away, but we've got some young guys who want to do well."