With lineups constantly shifting and five players contributing to every tournament, collegiate golf isn’t the individual sport of its professional counterpart.
In collegiate golf, the coach puts together a starting lineup of five players. Of those five, four overall scores count toward the team’s total. So far this season, Temple has been getting solid scores from its Top 3 players, but it’s those last two spots the Owls are lacking that is keeping them from winning tournaments.
Coach Brian Quinn has tried a few different lineups so far this season, but continually finds himself searching for someone to shoot low from the bottom of his lineup, he said.
“The hard thing for us right now is we haven’t had a five man’s score count yet this season,” Quinn said. “We need someone to step up from the bottom of the lineup and start playing more consistently.”
Each week, Quinn holds a qualifying tournament to decide which players will play in the upcoming tournament and who will sit out. The top players from the previous week’s tournament are exempt from qualifying as they have proved themselves capable of starting in Quinn’s eyes.
Senior Devin Bibeau, freshman Brandon Matthews and junior Matt Crescenzo are exempt from the upcomming qualifying tournament because of their low scores at the MacDonald Cup from Sept. 29–30. Matthews led the Owls to a ninth overall finish with a two-over par 142 (70–72) and a 15th place individual finish. Crescenzo tied for 32nd with a 146 (74–72) and Bibeau tied for 39th with a 148 (71–77).
The rest of the nine-man roster qualifies with 36 holes and the two lowest scores will start in the team’s next tournament, Quinn said.
Crescenzo has stepped up and solidified his spot as the No. 3 starter for the Owls, Quinn said. Crescenzo said he knows the potential is there for his team to win tournaments and knows it starts with qualifying.
“Qualifying is the best thing for us, you have to compete. You know the person you’re playing against is the thing stopping you from getting that spot and you want to work harder to beat him,” Crescenzo said. “We really need everyone to play good at the same time, everyone needs to pull it together at the same time and we need to believe in ourselves a little bit more.”
While Crescenzo has solidified his spot in the starting lineup for another week, junior Russell Hartung is a player who is trying to qualify each week just to get a chance at playing. Hartung said he feels his game is on the brink of where he wants it to be and looks at each qualifying tournament as an opportunity.
“It’s a lot of fun because we’re all real good buddies,” Hartung said. “You want everyone to play well but you have to have the desire to play better than everyone else because we’re all Division I athletes.”
“It’s about getting more consistent, hitting more fairways, greens and making putts. The more consistent you are, the better you will be, because you’re guaranteed a better chance of playing well,” Hartung added. “My game’s not bad right now, I definitely have work to do moving forward.”
Sophomore Paul Carbone has shown Quinn flashes of greatness, but has struggled to consistently perform. His even-par showing at the 2011 Barnabas Health Intercollegiate where he tied for first was the initial flash. He’s been up and down since, and Quinn said he sees Carbone as the key to taking the team to the next level.
“[Carbone] hopefully will step up, he’s starting to swing a little better right now,” Quinn said. “Right now he’s the key to the program, when he’s playing well we have a chance to win tournaments.”
Carbone said he takes his coach’s statement as a compliment, but also a challenge.
“It means a lot that he said that, he pushes me to play as well as I can and to keep working hard,” Carbone said. “Right now I’m playing three-quarters of what I’m capable of, and even when I’m at my highest level I have room to improve. I’m working so much harder and putting my passion to the test and only think I’ll get better from here.”
While Quinn searches for a player to compete in the five slot each week of the fall season, he’s already looking forward to the spring when transfer sophomore Matt Teesdale will join the team. Teesdale will be expected to make an impact early and find his way into the starting lineup, solidifying the Top 5.
“It depends on how hard [Teesdale] works. If he works hard, his impact will be huge,” Quinn said. “[Teesdale] has an amazing amount of ability. He hits it very long and is a gun-slinger.”
The Owls will now have significant time off for the first time since the beginning of September, which gives Quinn time to sort out his starting lineup. Temple will resume competition at the Big 5 Invitational held at the Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., from Oct. 13–14.
Anthony Bellino can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Bellino_Anthony.