Short game to be focus of improvement for golf team

Temple closed Fall 2017 in second place at the City 6 Championship.

Senior Mark Farley follows through on a swing during practice on Wednesday at Blue Bell Country Club in Montgomery County. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Coach Brian Quinn heard praise from his contemporaries when the Owls competed at the Visit Stockton Pacific Invite in California.

The coaches complimented Temple’s talent and ability to hit drives for long distances. But the team’s performance from Oct. 26-28 didn’t reflect these comments. The Owls finished 19th out of 20 teams and shot 55-over par on par-4s.

Temple’s fall season concluded on Saturday at the City 6 Championship in Torresdale, where the team looked to defend last year’s title. A birdie putt by Drexel senior Aaron Fricke on the 18th hole gave the Dragons the win and left the Owls with a second-place finish behind a team they placed better than at the Cornell Invitational in September.

“We’ve gotta take this finish as fuel into the offseason,” said senior Mark Farley, who shot 1-over 71 to place third and earn his best career finish on Saturday. “It’s time to prepare a little harder for the spring.”

To open the fall season, the Owls walked off the 18th green as champions of the Cornell Invitational on Sept. 17. Quinn recorded his seventh victory in his 11-year tenure and his first win since last year’s City 6 Championship.

Temple started the final day of the event in third place before earning the come-from-behind win. The Owls shot 19-under par on par-5 holes and had 44 birdies, ranking only behind Dartmouth College and Cornell University in the 16-team field.

The players and Quinn reached the consensus that they need to work on their shots on and around greens. The Owls shot 45-over par on par-4s at the Firestone Invitational on Oct. 2 and 3 when they tied for 12th among 16 teams.

Redshirt junior John Barone tied for 85th out of 87 golfers at the event. He called putting and chipping his “kryptonite” this semester. During the second round at Firestone, Barone had three birdies on the front nine. But he also had two bogeys and a triple bogey.

Barone closed the fall season by shooting par 70 on Saturday. He led all players in par-4 shooting at 1-under par and tied for first in birdies.

The Owls were one shot better than Drexel in par-5s and had two more birdies and 11 more pars than the Dragons. Drexel, however, was seven shots better on par-4s and seven shots better on par-3s.

“We have to attack the whole short-game area,” Quinn said. “We have been talking about it for a month straight, and we just have to find another area of attack because the kids just aren’t getting it done around the greens. It’s killing the team.”

“These courses are fairly easy tee-to-green, and we didn’t take advantage of that,” Barone said.

Temple will work on chipping and putting in its indoor, on-campus, 2,000-square-foot facility that opened in Spring 2017, Quinn said.

Junior Sam Soeth will also draw on his experience playing at one of the Delaware Valley’s most famous golf courses, Merion Golf Club. Golf Digest ranked the East course at Merion sixth on its 2017-18 list of the best courses in the United States.

For the past four summers, Soeth has worked in the pro shop at Merion, taking advantage of playing there as much as he possibly could.

Merion is notorious for its unforgiving greens. The track, designed in the 1910s, gives college players and professionals trouble. When the course hosted the U.S. Open for the fifth time in 2013, no one finished under par. The winning four-round total by Justin Rose was 1-over par.

Soeth had a career best fourth-place finish at the Firestone Invitational and also improved with a 79 at this year’s City 6 after shooting 82 last season.

Soeth still felt that he missed a lot of opportunities this fall.

“I owe Merion Golf Club so much,” Soeth said. “If you can shoot 67 out there, you come into any other course and you’re like, ‘Come on.’”

Temple’s spring schedule has yet to be released. The team will rest before it prepares for the coming months’ competition.

“They are gonna be a college kid, gonna mess around, go to football games, do what they need to do,” Quinn said. “It is an important thing to decompress so that they can come back ready to work.”

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