By Jordan Shim–
After reaching their third NCAA Golf Championship last season, the fall did not pan out the way men’s golf coach Mark Crabtree had planned.
Using the winter break to recoup, the team looks to qualify for their fourth-straight NCAA Regional and ultimately the NCAA Golf Championship in May.
“We’ve come back more like what we are,” Crabtree said. “After the bumpiness of the fall due to injuries, I think we rotated back to the norm. Our confidence level is higher. The effort level and dedication have gotten to where it needs to be.”
The Cards will have to bounce back without one of the top players in school history, two-time ACC individual champion Robin Sciot-Siegrist, who graduated last spring.
“Having a guy like Robin the last couple of years tells our guys what you have to be,” Crabtree said. “This is what you have to be to compete and be a champion. It sets the tone for where these guys need to get to.”
Crabtree now turns to sophomores Keenan de Lange and Simon Zach, along with his lone senior J.D. Lehman to lead the charge.
A solid team top to bottom, the Cardinals have a young nucleus, but lack collegiate experience. Injuries throughout the fall and lack of leadership affected the team’s consistency.
A tough spring schedule lays ahead as they will compete with some of the top teams and players in the country. Two events to look out for are the Hayt Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida, a staple event for Louisville the past few seasons, and the Clemson Invitational, an event that invited eight of the top 115 players last season.
Playing well in the ACC will be critical for the spring. The conference has five ranked schools and the majority advance to the Regionals and the Golf Championship.
“It’s deep,” Crabtree said. “We’re developing the team to play with the best of the conference. The ACC generally have about 10 teams that make it to the NCAA tournament out of the 12 that play golf, so that’s a challenge.”
Louisville returns to spring action at the Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate in Mobile, Alabama on Feb. 20.