Feb. 17, 2005
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
This year's Wyoming Cowboy golfers all have the capability of posting low scores individually, but the group of players that comprise the 2004-05 Cowboys have the talent to also bring UW success at the team level.
In Wyoming's first three tournaments of the fall '04 season, UW placed fourth of 15, sixth of 12 and seventh of 19 against some very good fields.
"We started out very well this fall, but had one big round per tournament, which proved to be our Achilles heel," said UW head coach Joe Jensen. "We're very close to playing consistently good team rounds, if we can just eliminate that one big score."
Losing only one senior to graduation last season, these Cowboys have been together as a team for several years and are poised to make a nice run over the next three semesters.
"I can't help but feel good about this team's potential, and I've got a great group of guys," adds Jensen. "We're a very close team. They have all done a great job during off-season workouts and are working hard in school."
Adding to the optimism that is building about this team, is the certain benefit that will come due to the new addition of a year-round indoor short game practice facility.
"The guys are excited about the new putting green room," said Jensen. "It will not only be a great practice facility for us, but will be a shot in the arm for our program.
"Eliminating mental mistakes, as well as who makes putts, is what separates the very good college golf players from everyone else. With the additional practice we get on this new surface, if we can translate that into every guy making one more putt per round, then there will be a positive direct correlation between our new practice facility and our team scores."
Seven players comprise the Cowboy roster in the spring of '05, however, only five student-athletes will be available to compete for UW. Senior Matthew Brunk is out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury and senior Jonathan Shuss will be taking a redshirt year. That leaves juniors Eric Baily, Niel King and Dan Silva, along with sophomore Jeff Franks and freshman Dave Stewart.
"We have been very thin this season," observes Jensen. "Five guys playing for five spots. They all know that they will play, so their motivation is not just to travel, but to play well, and that will help us."
During the fall '04 season the Wyoming men travelled to five tournaments. Beginning with the Denver Pioneer Classic, March 15-16, the Cowboys will play six tournaments during the spring portion of their schedule. Among those spring events will be the third annual UW/Cleveland Golf Cowboy Classic, an increasingly high quality tournament that Wyoming will host April 11-12 in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Talking Stick Golf Club. The complete season schedule gives the Cowboys what Jensen strives for yearly, the highest level of competition possible.
"I want the best competition possible on our schedule," said Jensen. "I don't worry about weather when I look for tournaments, because everyone plays the same conditions. This year, with two east coast events, some regional competitions and several west coast tournaments, we will see very good teams and players and some challenging courses. Because of the strength of our conference and region, we see those familiar teams at these good tournaments and that works well in our preparation for the MWC and West Regional tournaments."
Jensen has high expectations for his student-athletes and the possibility of good team results by this UW squad is fueled not only by their high placement this fall, but by the low rounds each Cowboy is capable of posting. During the course of their careers, every returning team member has scored at least one round of 70 or lower, with freshman Dave Stewart contributing a 71 in his first semester. Include eight top 25 individual finishes by Cowboys this past fall, and the possibilities for success seem very positive for Wyoming men's golf.
Jeff Franks had a first place individual finish at the Air Force Falcon Invitational, which included an opening round of 68. Niel King and Dan Silva each fired rounds of 70 at that same tournament. In fact, Silva has lowered his stroke average from 77.6 before his redshirt year, to 74.93 this past fall.
"The loss of Matthew Brunk to injury was difficult," said Jensen. "He is a premeir player in the MWC and was expected to be a big part of our team this year. However, each member of this team has the ability to shoot low consistently. These guys have their best golf ahead of them."
All eight MWC institutions field men's golf teams. The New Mexico Lobos are the defending team champions, while Ryan Moore of UNLV is the returning individual title holder. Following the fall season of '04, three MWC schools, led by New Mexico at number four, were ranked in the top 20 nationally.
"It is great to be part of a conference that plays at such a highly competitive level," added Jensen. "Top to bottom the MWC is as good as any conference in the nation, especially with the addition of TCU, usually a top 10 team, next year. Teams in the MWC compete not only to win the conference, but for the national title."