The men’s golf team looks to sustain its early season success after a victory at the Adams Cup
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 16:09
Two tournaments into the year and the Knights have returned to their winning ways.
The men’s golf team left Newport, R.I., site of the Adams Cup, with a tournament victory for the past two seasons and this year was no different as the team pulled out a win on Tuesday.
The Knights took the victory by one stroke over Yale, which finished second, as well as beating out the 11 additional competing teams.
“Our team played well enough to win. I think any time you have a close victory, the team learns to play with adversity and it will make you stronger for future competitions,” head coach Bryce Wallor said in a release.
UCF kicked off the 2012-2013 season on Sept. 8 playing at the Rich Harvest Farms golf course in the Northern Intercollegiate tournament in Sugar Grove, Ill. It played in the same tournament last year and found success, taking the title.
After two days of play, the team ended the 2012 tournament by tying with Virginia for fifth with a total score of 914, 62-over-par.
When asked about the repeated visit, Wallor said, “We play at Rich Harvest Farms because it’s a long, hard course. There are a lot of good teams out there and we’re looking for national exposure.”
“I was looking forward to the trip back [to Rich Harvest Farms]. It’s a long and difficult course with many challenges," junior Greg Eason said. "The competition was very tough and I was a little bit surprised by the standard of play. It was a wake up call to me and the rest of the team.”
Course conditions may have contributed to the overall struggles the Knights faced. Rain during the practice round Friday and intense winds that persisted throughout the tournament put all competitors at a disadvantage. Despite the difficulties, Eason was able to finish higher than any other Knight, tying for 11th individually out of 66 golfers and finishing 11-over-par.
“We were disappointed in the way we finished. We never came together as we would’ve liked to. It taught us a lot,” Eason said regarding the team’s overall play.
Eason received All-American honors following the 2011-2012 season.
“The recognition is always nice; it raised my confidence, but I’m hoping to make the first or second team this year and always trying to improve,” he said.
To improve for the rest of the season, the Knights will focus on playing longer courses and try to think around the courses more precisely. The men’s golf team usually practices on much shorter courses than what it played at Rich Harvest Farms.
The past few seasons of golf have raised the expectations of the Knights for the 2012 season. Since 2009, the team has won two Conference USA titles, appeared in three NCAA regional tournaments and made a strong showing at the NCAA National Championship last season.
Impressive victories over Oklahoma State, Georgia, Florida and FSU have also been added to its resume.
“Success starts at the top; the president [John C. Hitt], the athletic director, they have given me all the right tools to work with through new facilities and fundraising. We have built a culture of winning by recruiting hard workers,” Wallor said.
Coming into this season ranked 22nd in the Golfweek Preview has the golfers more motivated than ever.
Leadership within the squad can be found in a quartet of returning juniors and starters: Eason, Jose Joia, Kyle Wilshire and Ricardo Gouveia. Eason and Gouveia earned NCAA All-American Honors last season.
Last year, Gouveia received All-American recognition from Golfweek and was named C-USA’s Newcomer of the Year for 2011-2012, after averaging a team-low stroke average of 71.5 and having an impressive season overall. He also advanced all the way to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Amateur tournament.
Even though his first tournament of the year was not as well played as expected, he will still be counted on by his coaches and teammates to produce a winning season.
The Knights played the Adams Cup of Newport on Monday and Tuesday and will play the Jack Nicklaus Invitational Oct. 8 and Oct. 9; they return home to play their first match in Orlando on Oct. 21 in the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational.