Men’s golf prepares for national spotlight in Florida

by Sasha Siclait

After taking first in the Northwest Conference and qualifying for the national tournament, the Whitworth men’s golf team continues preparation to Destin, Fla. to compete in the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships.

Head coach Warren Friedrichs will be taking Whitworth to the national tournament for the third time in his Whitworth career. The 2012-2013 team is the best and deepest team that Friedrichs said he has ever had.

Senior Joey DeGroff, junior Stephen Plopper, junior Jesse Salzwedel and freshmen brothers Oliver and Lyle Rudnicki will be the five golfers representing Whitworth at the championship.

“We’re expecting just another tournament and to approach it no different than any other tournament,” DeGroff said. “Golf doesn’t really change. The pressure might change, but golf is golf.”

All five of the players were honored recently with Salzwedel and Oliver Rudnicki receiving First Team All-NWC while DeGroff, Plopper and Lyle Rudnicki earned Second Team All-NWC.

The men’s golf team accomplishments and success has also been established from their relationships off the green, Salzwedel said.

“The big key is the comradery amongst the team and I think in order to get to the level that we’re at we need to have a tight knit group that’s supportive of each other,” Salzwedel said. “Not just as golfers, but as good friends and brothers.”

The Bucs will be taking off to Destin on May 14 and over 30 teams will be attending the tournament.

Each team will play 18 holes on the first day of the tournament and the top 15 teams will advance to the second round.

“Our goal is to make the cut into the top 15[teams], which would be a big achievement for us and our conference,” Friedrichs said.

When the men’s golf team arrives, they will have the opportunity to participate in a practice round on each course. These courses will be difficult, due to the high level of competition and will contain a fair amount of water on the course, Friedrichs said.

Weather conditions as well as climate will also have an affect on the men’s golf game. Florida is at sea level, and also humid so this will cause the ball to go a lot shorter than playing golf here in the northwest Salzwedel said.

“We will have to get used to the tournament courses in our practice rounds.  Florida has different grasses compared to the Pacific Northwest.” Friedrichs said.  “The course conditions,the grass and the greens can make a difference in how you chip and putt and how you hit out of the rough.”

The Bucs will be playing some teams that they competed against in the West Cup March 25-26 and are expecting some pretty tough competition, but multiple players commented that if they worry about their game they will do well.

“Were playing with the best and that’s why it’s the national championship because the best teams are the ones that get to go,” Salzwedel said. “I think if we play our game and don’t worry about other teams and the size of the tournament, we could be in contention.”

Hard work has been a common theme amongst the Whitworth men’s golf team and hasn’t gone unnoticed as shown through their recipient of honors.

“There’s been a lot of hard work throughout the season, people haven’t taken days off and  have worked at it consistently through the season and that’s been enough to get us to where we need to be,” Oliver Rudnicki said.

While the men’s golf team competes in Florida, fans can listen to live audio and get live statistic updates by visiting www.ncaa.com.

Contact Sasha Siclait at ssiclait16@my.whitworth.edu

 

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