The golf team competes in the most anticipated tournament of the year this weekend at the Big 5 Invitational at the Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
The Owls will head into the tournament after their first weekend off since Sept. 1, giving coach Brian Quinn more time than usual to put together his starting lineup. With that and the added emotion of playing in the team’s native area, Quinn said the Owls have a chance of duplicating what his 2008 squad did by winning the annual Big 5 tournament.
“We set our schedule up that way to have the off week before the Big 5 tournament on purpose,” Quinn said. “I would say this team has the ability to be better than the 2008 team.”
Temple has been in contention in some of its tournaments throughout the fall season, but hasn’t put together a winning team effort. If they want to contend this weekend, the Owls will need big performances from senior Devin Bibeau, freshman Brandon Matthews and junior Matt Crescenzo.
Bibeau is a senior who Quinn has called “the leader of this team.” Through the first four tournaments this season, Bibeau’s stroke average of 73.5 is good for second place on the team. This being Bibeau’s last appearance in Temple’s home tournament, he said it’s an event he and the rest of the team look forward to each season because of the hometown camaraderie.
“It’s a lot better having it at one of our home courses, a lot of family and friends will be there supporting us,” Bibeau said. “It really gives you a great mindset, knowing the course well. My game [has] been slowly improving and playing at a course you know gives us a big advantage.”
Matthews has been nothing short of great during his first four tournaments at Temple. The highly-touted freshman out of Pittston Area High School has claimed three straight Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week honors and A-10 Player of the Week once. His stroke average of 71.2 is the lowest on the team. Matthews said he hopes to continue his strong play with a good showing at Philmont.
“The most important goal for me is for the team to go out and play well, hopefully we can put something together and make a run at winning,” Matthews said. “With the way I’m playing individually, my goal is to go out and win, if I have a chance on the back nine on Sunday I’ll be happy.”
Crescenzo has been the unsung hero this year for the golf team. His 73.9 stroke average makes him not only third on the team, but it is 3.8 strokes less than his 2011–12 average of 77.7. Crescenzo, a Cheltenham, Pa., native, also has a distinct advantage heading into the Big 5 Invitational as Philmont Country Club is the course he has played most of his life.
“It makes this tournament really cool, it’s good for me because I know a lot of the members well and makes it a little more interesting and exciting,” Crescenzo said. “It’s not only special for me though, it’s special for everyone, a lot of people’s families will be there so it’s a really good time.”
Behind Bibeau, Matthews and Crescenzo, Quinn said he expects sophomore Paul Carbone to start, and sophomore Conor Dunne has the inside track at claiming the fifth and final starting spot for the tournament. Carbone, a Huntington Valley, Pa., native, has played in every event this season for the Owls and has a stroke average of 75.6. Dunne’s first event this season was the Macdonald Cup where he tied for 73rd with scores of 80 and 79.
After giving his team what he called “a mandatory” two days off following the MacDonald Cup, Quinn had the Owls at Philmont preparing to take on the 19-team field on a course that he said is sure to be challenging.
“Philmont is going to be a great course for this tournament, they are going to have it set up just like a PGA event,” Quinn said. “The team’s been working hard, this is the kids’ favorite event of the year, they really look forward to it.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Bellino_Anthony.