Men’s golf hopes for national encore

Doug Gulasy

After high finish at NCAAs, team looks to take its next step

Just three months removed from placing in the top 10 teams at the NCAA Championships, the Kent State men’s golf team will look to repeat its success this fall season.

The Flashes set a program record by finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships in May, 10 shots back of champion UCLA. With that experience, the team is hopeful it can compete on a high level again this year.

“We have a tradition of playing at the national level and playing for the national championship,” Kent State coach Herb Page said. “We were very, very close to winning it (last season). Now we’re going to try to do it again.”

2008 Men’s golf schedule-borne illness

&bull Sept. 6-7 Maryland Intercollegiate (Cambridge, Md.)

&bull Sept. 13-14 Wolf Run Intercollegiate (Zionsville, Ind.)

&bull Sept. 28-30 Ping/Golfweek Preview (Toledo)

&bull Oct. 5-6 Windon Memorial Classic (Glenview, Ill.)

&bull Oct. 24-26 Bank of Tennessee at the Ridges (Jonesborough, Tenn.)

The Flashes will begin play at the Maryland Intercollegiate from Sept. 6 to 7, and a good test will come later that month at the Ping/Golfweek Preview from Sept. 28 to 30. Page called that tournament a “measuring stick” for the team.

The tournament is so important, Page said, because only the top 15 teams in the country from last season were invited. Also, the tournament is being held at the site of the 2009 NCAA Championships, the Inverness Club in Toledo.

“That’s kind of a highlight of our fall, and I think that’ll test us and see where we are,” Page said. “You obviously have to be in the top 15 to get invited, so we feel really good about that.”

Overall, Page said the schedule will be difficult, as it usually is. However, the Flashes will have the benefit of experience this season.

Four of the team’s top six golfers from last season return: junior David Ludlow and sophomores Brett Cairns, Jean-Phillipe Paiement and John Hahn, the 2007 Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Year.

“My expectations are (that) if they continue to work hard – they’re very coachable young men – and we put them into elite competition, they’re going to get better,” Page said. “We need to keep improving, and with the right attitude I think that’ll happen.”

Page said if those four players play up to their potential, the Flashes will need just one of their remaining players performing well to make the team successful.

Last year, the Flashes came on the strongest in the spring season. The team finished in the top three in five consecutive tournaments, including two tournament victories.

Page hopes the team will have the same kind of success throughout this entire season and, once again, contend for the NCAA Championship in May. But the Flashes aren’t guaranteed success just because of what they did last season, he said.

“It is very difficult to play the schedule we play and to get back into contention,” Page said. “Yeah, we did very well, but it all starts from scratch again. Everybody starts back at even.”

Contact managing editor Doug Gulasy at [email protected].