HUMBLE, Texas - Lipscomb men’s golf opens the spring 2014 campaign inside the Houston city limits at the 14th-annual Rice Intercollegiate, Feb. 17-18 at Westwood Golf Club.
The Bisons will be among 14 other teams in the event, including Arkansas State, Cincinnati, Drake, Florida Atlantic, Gonzaga, Houston Baptist, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Old Dominion, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin State, UT-Pan American, UTSA and the host, Rice. The University of Houston is also sending a pair of individuals to the event as well.
Will Brewer, Lipscomb head coach and director of golf, knows his team has not had great weather to prepare, but thinks the work ethic and makeup of his squad can overcome the shortcomings they faced this winter.
“I’m a little cautious,” Brewer said. “We have had very poor weather to prepare. But I am also confident and anxious to get the spring started. Our team has worked out very hard this winter and I think the guys will come out more prepared than they might think they are.
“Our team grew a lot over the offseason. Anytime you come in as a freshman it is like a cloud of dust and you don’t know where you are. But I think they have out-grown that. They did well in school and are getting the picture of what we are trying to do here at Lipscomb. We are better now, even though we haven’t competed, than we were last fall.”
Lipscomb is coming off a successful fall season that saw the Bisons claim the Murray State Invitational title in a playoff with Alabama State on Oct. 1. The Bisons shot a team score of 857 (plus-5). Lipscomb also had third and fourth place finishes at the Derek Dolenc Invitational and the APSU Intercollegiate.
No other freshmen class had better success than Brewer’s youngsters in the fall. Golfstat.com ranked the Bisons No. 1 in NCAA Division I on freshman impact. The ranking is based off of relative strength and average score.
“Anytime you have young players, they are going to be a little more inconsistent than you would prefer,” Brewer said. “But I think they are learning and growing. They just want to play well, work hard in practice and in the classroom. I can’t be happier with what our freshmen are doing.”
Two reasons the freshmen were ranked so highly: Mikey Feher and Sydney Chung. Feher led the Purple and Gold with a 73.67 scoring average over 15 rounds played. Chung finished just behind at 73.87.
“Mikey and Sydney played so well in the fall and I think they will be even better this spring,” Brewer said.
Chung fired eight subpar rounds in 15 attempts to rank 32nd of almost 8,000 Division I golfers. Feher had seven to stand 117th.
Brewer relied heavily upon the freshmen in the fall and will continue with that recipe on Monday.
“We have four freshmen and a junior going to this event,” Brewer said. “I have a lot of confidence in them. It is just a matter of getting a few reps in and building momentum. There is no question we can be competitive this week.”
Caston Roberts will be the junior making the trip to the Lone Star State, alongside freshmen Feher, Chung, Stoney Crouch and Dowling Armstrong.
Not only are the youngsters making an impact, but so are the upperclassmen. The lone win of the fall came when a mixture of three juniors and seniors made the trip to Murray, Ky. Brewer will look to the veterans to guide the team to more success this spring on and off the links.
“Our two captains are Ryan Terry and Dustin Wilder,” Brewer said. “Both of those guys have led well and are doing a great job both on and off the course. They both have a strong desire to play and play well. I fully expect them to have good showings over these next few events and qualifiers.”
The 54-hole Rice Intercollegiate tees off Monday at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start. The second round will begin soon after the completion of the opening 18 holes. The third and final round will begin with an 8 a.m. shotgun start on Tuesday.
Founded in 1928, Westwood Golf Club has the distinction of being the second oldest private golf club in Houston on its original site.
Live scoring will be provided for the Rice Intercollegiate. Follow the link for up-to-date hole-by-hole results: https://www.birdiefire.com/tournament/2407/
The Bisons will have a quick turnaround following Tuesday’s final round, making a trip to Somis, Calif., for the Jones Invitational hosted by Lipscomb’s sister-school, Pepperdine University on Feb. 24-25.
After a long offseason, Brewer is looking forward to Monday.
“It is going to be two great trips,” Brewer said. “I am excited to get it started.”