Jimmies set for nationals
Unlike back home, snow and wind chill were not a problem where the University of Jamestown men's golf team was Monday. The big challenges are a tough course and deep field as the Jimmies begin play today at the NAIA national championships at LPGA...
Unlike back home, snow and wind chill were not a problem where the University of Jamestown men's golf team was Monday.
The big challenges are a tough course and deep field as the Jimmies begin play today at the NAIA national championships at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"It's a beautiful golf course," said UJ head golf coach Dustin Jensen. "It's definitely a difficult course. It will be a big test."
The course is narrow and features tall pine trees like many Minnesota layouts. There is plenty of vegetation unique to Florida beneath trees as well. First and foremost it puts a premium on hitting the ball straight.
"The thing about playing golf in the Upper Midwest is that it's a lot of bombing and gauging where you hit it long and then find a way to chip and get close," Jensen said. "Here, the onus is on hitting the ball straight, keeping it in the middle. If you get offline big numbers can happen very quickly."
The field is tough, too.
Based on scoring average, the Jimmies are near the bottom of the 29-team field. But Jensen said his five-man squad of junior Michael Strain, freshmen Nolan Frank, Brandon Stahlhut and Nathan Kapaun along with sophomore Trent Hagenson, are capable of making the cut.
The top 17 teams and 40 individuals after the first three rounds get to play the final round on Friday.
"If our guys play to the high end of their abilities they can do it," Jensen said. "It's not going to be a cakewalk, but if we go out and play our best we have a chance to be playing on Friday."
The Jimmies have not played competitively in nearly a month, but Jensen is not worried about that. The team was able to finish up the school year, and get a little time at home after winning the national-qualifying tournament April 20-21 in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Jimmies had practice rounds on the LPGA International course Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but the key is more what happens between the ears then on the course.
"We've had a motto for our men's and women's teams since I took over as coach: 'hit it and forget it.'" Jensen said. "Every shot is its own round. If you start thinking back and feeling sorry for yourself, that's where you can get in trouble."
It's just the fourth time the men's program has qualified for nationals and first since 2004-05. With a young team, it's likely just a sign of things to come.
"This is a competitive group," Jensen said. "They're focused and ready to go."