UHV men's golf face tough odds in conference tournament
Shoot 75 and keep focused. That's what UHV coach Brian Williamson hopes his team will do this week.
The Jaguars are going to have to if they are going to have a shot at the the Association of Independent Institutions championships, which open Monday at Victoria Country Club.
"Our competition is stiff," he said. "You either thrive on pressure, or it eats you alive."
UHV will host the event on its home turf, which would give the team an advantage. That still doesn't sit well with coach Williamson, knowing the Jaguars finished last in the Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate here in February against similarly tough competition.
During last season's conference championship, UHV placed fifth, but that was with three golfers who have moved on since then.
Sophomores Steve Jones and Vance Edwards are the only players returning this season. Jones highlighted the need to be focused on the course for the tournament.
"We just have to play smart golf, take out silly mental mistakes," Jones said. "If we take that out, we have a very good chance of winning. We know the golf course well enough."
To prepare for the event, Williamson tried to add a twist of pressure to his practices. He wanted his players to feel a similar type of pressure they would face in a tournament-like environment.
"It's just a matter of carrying it over to the real thing," Williamson said.
Williamson said the pressure is off the young Jaguars.
"The expectations are low, but my hopes are high," Williamson said. "They performed well under simulated pressure. It's going to take them being in control."
• The 54-hole tournament tees off with eight teams vying for a berth to the NAIA national championships. Golfers will play 36 holes Monday and finish with an 18-hole final round Tuesday. Among the teams in the field are Victoria (B.C.), Cal State-San Marcos, British Columbia, Ashford, Jamestown College, SUNY Delhi (N.Y.), and Valley City State (N.D.)
• Cal State-San Marcos enters the tournament as the favorite this year, ranked No. 3 in the nation in NAIA for men's golf.
• Action begins Monday with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start, while the final round gets underway at 8 a.m. with tee times.
• The Jaguars have struggled most of the season and enter the conference championships with a 311.19 scoring average as a team. Jones currently leads the Jaguars with a 76.0 scoring average through six events, while Edwards has a 77.1 average in five events. Colton Martin has an 80.5 average in six events. William Dawson-Hicks adds an 82.5 scoring average to the mix, while Jake Truss, who has played in three events, has an 84.6 scoring average. Jones and Edwards also each have two top-10 individual finishes this season.
• The Jaguars' best finish this year was a fourth-place finish at the season-opening TLU-John Bohmann Memorial, where they posted their best 54-hole total score at 882 with rounds of 297-289-297.
UHV's Paul Ebner contributed tournament notes to this report.